DNA barcoding of bamboo to support bamboo conservation and propagation in typhoon-affected Cagayan Valley

June 25, 2022

A phytochemical screening and DNA barcoding of economically important bamboos will be carried out as part of aims to conserve and propagate the species in typhoon-affected Cagayan Valley  and explore bamboo’s pharmaceutical-industrial prospects.
   “Bamboo has numerous industrial, pharmaceutical, phytochemical, medical, nutritional, and food advantages.  Characterization of bamboo germplasm is an important connection between conservation of diversity and utilization of germplasms (seeds or living tissues that carry genetic resources useful in plant breeding and conservation),” according to Alvin Jose L. Reyes and Eddie B. Abugan Jr of the Project  Management Division (PMD).
   PMD is one of the units of the Department of Environrment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Foreign Assisted and Special Projects.
   The Bamboo Characterization Project of the Cagayan State University (CSU)-Gonzaga through its Project Leader Jeff M. Opeña. just made a presentation at DENR Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.
It is in relation to its petition for a gratuitous permit to conduct the bamboo characterization and sample collection activities in the Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape.
   The project also aims to refurbish a research laboratory in CSU-Gonzaasga. It will collect and characterize different species in different ecosystems in Cagayan Province.

Cagayan’s bamboo growing in rivers and volcanic areas

   DNA barcoding will be a modern and innovative way to characterize bamboo species.  It will accelerate experts’ identification of the species that they desire to use based on traits—such fast propagation or medicinal properties.  
   Bamboo has been traditionally characterized based on its flowering frequency or abundance—annual flowering, sporadic or regular flowering, and gregarious flowering.
   “However, characterization using floral morphology posed a limitation and difficulty due to the requirement of long period of time which can occur in years or even decades,” according to Reyes and Abugan.
   Moreover, biochemical characterization through phytochemical (plant chemistry) screening enables experts in pharmaceuticals and medicine to detect plant secondary metabolites in bamboo which have utilization potentials in the industry.  
   While primary metabolites include small molecules like amino acids and sugars, secondary plant metabolities such as alkaloids, anthocyanin, flavonoids, phenols, saponins, steroids, tannins, and terpenoids are studied for medicinal plant herbal purposes, among other possible commercial uses.
   Former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu ordered in November 2020 the extensive propagation of bamboo in Cagayan Valley to prevent massive flooding that plagued the province arising from Typhoon Ulysses.

CSU Project Leader Jeff Opena (left) leads bamboo DNA bamboo barcoding

   Executive Order 879 also mandated that 25% of the annual school desks of the Department of Education should be made of bamboo. EO 879 creates the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC).    
   DENR”s own reforestation areas should be planted with bamboo in its directive to DENR-attached Forest Management Bureau, Laguna Lake Development Authority, and Mines and Geosciences Bureau.
   The bamboo project costs P1.601 million consisting of P1.261 million from DENR and P340,000 from CSU.  Aside from involving DENR’s local offices in Cagayan, implementor includes Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Offices of Cagayan, and the Central Analytical Laboratory of CSU.
   Aside from preventing flooding effects of typhoons, DENR also aims to use bamboo as tool to climate change mitigation.  Bamboo is known to sequester five metric tons of carbon dioxide per hectare of plantation.  
   Bamboo is also being planted in the rivers of Marikina and Bicol– areas usually flooded during typhoons.
   DENR is also promoting its use as lumber substitute using engineered bamboo.  
   While it has extensive use as raw material in many industries, the Philippines’ bamboo export actually slowed from a high of 106,000 kilos in 2011 to  35,000 in 2015 and even further lower to 8,00 kilos in 2018, according to Statista.com.  Exports just picked up to 66,000 in 2020.
The phytochemical and morphological studies of bamboo species will be a first among bamboo species studies that will take into consideration the different ecosystemswhere bamboo grows in Cagayan province.  
   “Cagayan is  rich natural systems, not only agro-ecosystems but grasslands, and others like water falls and volcanic areas where sulfur-rich soil is found.  For example, we will study if the Bayog bamboo species carries different morphological and phytochemical characteristices when they are grown in sulfur-rich volcanic areas,” said Opeña
   The study will find out if in the future, the “species’ phytochemical properties may be used (as raw material) for pharmaceutical, nutraceutical products, for medicine and other products.”
   Target for the bamboo species growth study are in two volcanoes– the Smith Volcano, also called Mount Babuyan, which is politically located in Calayan Island and Mount Cagua in Gonzaga.
   Among other ecosystems  the bamboo species will be studied  in coastal areas, residential areas, glasslands, agroecosystems, near bodies of water (rivers, creeks, waterfalls, dams, lakes, freshwater and hotsprings), caves, near the volcano, rainforests/forests, islands, protected areas, and others. .  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR anticipates recognition of Sibugay Wetland Nature Reserve as a Ramsar Site or Wetland of International Importance as contracting parties meet in Switzerland in December

June 22, 2022
The Sibugay Coastal Wetlands (SCW) will be renamed Sibugay Wetland Nature Reserve (SWNR) as Philippines anticipates its inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance when contracting parties meet in December this year in Gland, Switzerland.
   Georgina Fernandez, Conservation and Development chief of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Zamboanga Sibugay, said that the Ramsar Site designation will open opportunities for international cooperation on research.  

   It will help raise funding for conservation and protection of the site.
    Provincial Eenvironment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Edgardo P. Montojo said  it is important to advocate for the wise use the wetlands’ resources so it will be enjoyed by future generations. Here, the Ramsar list will play a unique role.
   DENR-Region IX is preparing the documents for the inclusion of the SWNR into the list. These will be submitted to the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) – the designated Ramsar National Administrative Authority for endorsement to the Office of the DENR Secretary who will then endorse it to the Ramsar authorities.
   The effort toward the declaration of SWNR as Ramsar  site is part of conserving its rich biodiversity and the cultural heritage of Subanens and other ethnic tribes in Zamboanga Sibugay.      
   Its designation also supports the country’s commitment to the Ramsar Convention as well as to the Convention on Biodiversity and Convention on Migratory Species, said Michael F. Dela Cruz,  PENRO Sibugay Technical Services chief.
   The listing will protect the rich biodiversity of Sibugay Wetland Nature Reserve which is home to 68 waterbird species – 43 migratory species– 9 Near Threatened species and  4 Threatened species namely Far Eastern Curlew, Great Knot, Chinese Egret and Philippine Duck.

   Banded (with flags/ring) waterbirds were also documented in the wetland with banding sites from China, Taiwan, Russia, Australia, and Japan.          
   The 172,007.25-hectare Sibugay Wetland Nature Reserve has vast areas of mangroves, mudflats, seagrass and corals.
   “The mangrove forest plays a major role in the productivity of the wetland, especially for fisheries as well as roosting site for the largest Flying Fox population in the country. The wetland also serves as a staging, roosting and  foraging grounds various waterbirds, marine turtles and whale shark according to DENR wildlife experts.

Wetlands feeds birds

   The proposed Sibugay Wetlands Nature Reserve covers 9 municipalities out of the 16 Sibugay towns.  Two Marine Protected Area Networks (MPAN) are housed in this proposed nature reserve.  
   DENR IX through PENRO Sibugay is completing in the second quarter of 2022 the Nagao Funded Project which aims to empower the local communities on the sustainable use of the wetland and its resources.

Whale shark or Butanding

   It also aims to organize and operationalize its citizen science group and implement the community-based wetland action plan, according to Fernandez, also chief of the Nagao Wetland-funded “Establishing Knowledge on the International Importance of Sibugay Wetlands:  A Means to Enhance Wise Use of the Proposed Ramsar Site.”
   The Sibugay Wetland Nature Reserve  will be Philippines’ ninth Ramsar Site when granted this recognition.  
   Other Ramsar Sites in the country are Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Naujan Lake National Park, Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area, and
Sasmuan Pampanga Coastal Wetlands.  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

USAID-funded “Safe Water Project” to give safe drinking water, sanitation services to 350,000 individiauls in Palawan, Negros, Sarangani

June 20, 2022

The United States-funded Safe Water Project (SWP) will be implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to give access to safe drinking water and sanitation services to 350,000 individuals in Palawan, Negros Occidental, and Sarangani.

Project components include a technical assistance (TA) on water chlorination for LGUs and water districts and TA to Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) on septage management.

The septate management covers the Supreme Court Mandamus for Manila Bay area.
Other components are exploration on diversifying surface bulk water supply in Negros Occidental and assistance in water security plans for Negros Occidental and Sarangani.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has been prompted by water security challenges in the Philippines including a “growing population, unsustainable land uses, deficient wastewater management.”

“At the center of these challenges are the need for adequate supply of clean drinking water which has become increasingly elusive in many parts of the country, elimination of open defecation, especially in poorer communities, and increased access to safely managed sanitation services,” reported DENR Project Evaluation Officer Israel Helios S. Inocencio.

Climate change, typhoons, droughts, and diseases like Covid 19 are further worsening the level of stress from these water supply threats.These threaten watersheds and the integrity of water and sanitation infrastructure.

Total project cost is P922 million– equivalent to a grant of $18 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Philippine government shoulders a fund equivalent to not less than one-third (P307 million) of the USAID grant.

The project employs the Integrated and Inclusive Water Security (IIWS) framework. This is part of the long term goal to protect the upstream water resources — the forests–where the water comes from. The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) is a co-implementor of the project.

As such a highlight of the SWP is a livelihood component.

In this livelihood lineup is an ube production training for people’s organizations (POs) in Narra, Palawan. It involves private company Sunlight Corp.
Another livelihood component is training for the use of starter kits and farm tools for the ECLOF Organic Farm, a non-profit microfinance institution.

Negros Occidental Rep. Kiko Benitez listens to a presentation on Safe Water Project

Profiling of a PO in Sarangani for enterprise development will also be implemented. An estimated 150,000 people will be the livelihood beneficiaries.

Profiling of a PO in Sarangani for enterprise development will also be implemented. An estimated 150,000 people will be the livelihood beneficiaries.
A total of $20 million will be mobilized as investment for the sustainable environment operation.

The project will empower local government units (LGUs), water service providers, and watershed councils on the sustainable management of water resources.
Other beneficiaries are communities in Region 4-B (Mimaropa, Mindoro Marinduque, Romblon) , Region 6 (Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo) and Region 12 ( Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat).

The Safe Water Roadmap will provide 350,000 people access to safely managed drinking water services . A total of 1.1 million people will receive improved service quality from an existing safely managed drinking water services.
An estimated one million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced due to sustainable landscapes system.

Assistance on the setup of a Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) will be extended to Puerto Princesa and Quezon in Palawan, Bago and Kabankalan in Negros Occidental and Sarangani.
The Safe Water Project is being implemented over five years until 2024. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Sibugay Coastal Wetlands to be nominated to the Ramsar List of International Importance

June 6, 2022

The government will nominate the Sibugay Coastal Wetlands hto the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance as part of conserving its rich biodiversity and the cultural heritage of Zamboanga Sibugay’s Subanens and other ethnic tribes.

The Sibugay Coastal Wetlands (SCW) will be Philippines’ eighth on the Ramsar List when granted this recognition.

Wetlands feeds birds

The listing will protect its rich wildlife which is home to 53 waterbird species– 37 migratory waterbirds and 11 threatened migratory waterbirds.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is completing in the second quarter of 2022 the project “Establishing Knowledge on the International Importance of Sibugay Wetlands: A Means to Enhance Wise use of the Proposed Ramsar Site.”

Sibugay Wetlands’ 187,000-hectare area has been extensively planted with mangroves totalling 5,155 hectares. It has mudflats (bay mud) spanning 1,607 hectares.

“The mangrove forest plays a major role int he productivity of the wetland, especially for fisheries as well as roosting site for the largest Flying Fox population. Sibugay Wetlands serves as a staging, roosting, foraging and breeding grounds for various waterbirds including migratory species,” according to DENR wildlife experts.

Sea cow or dugong

As part of the conservation plan, DENR will empower the local communities on the sustainable use of the wetland and its resources. That will give them livelihood to keep them away from destroying such environmental wonder.

“The bay supports fishing and other marine related livelihood which serves as the main source of subsistence for most of the coastal barangays.”

Marine turtles

The DENR study will generate detailed bilogical and physiochemical data, and information on ecosystems services of Sibugay Wetlands. It is also now completing Communication Education Public and Awareness (CEPA) sessions and capability building of the community.

The project includes the wetlands’ assessment, distribution of maps of wetland resources, and CEPA within the coastal wetlands, and a workshop on the formulation of community-based wetland action plan.

The SCW project is funded by the Nagao Wetland Fund for P936,000. Implementor also includes DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and the Provincial Environment & Natural Resources OFfice-Zamboanga Sibugay.

SCW also supports threatened species such as marine turtles, Whale shark, Sea Cow, and Saltwater Crocodile. The vast mudflat is home to a variety of oysters, scallops, and other mollusks.

Whale shark Butanding

Endangered Far Eastern Curlew were recorded. Banded-flagged birds were also documented with banding sites from Nan Pu mudflat, Bohai Bay, China; Chongming Dao, Shanghai, China, Khairusova and Belogovaya Rivers estuary, Russia; Australia, and Japan.

The Ramsar List promotes conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It recognizes wetlands’ international significance based on its “ecology, botany, zoology, limnology (study of inland waters) or hydrology.” (Ramsar Convention).
Philippines’ other wetlands on the Ramsar List are Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary,
Las Pinas Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, Naujan Lake National Park, Negros Occidental, Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area, Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, and Tubataha Reefs Natural Park. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Benefit sharing scheme to open economic opportunities for rural communities, Indigenous People from Ph “genetic” wealth 

May 13, 2022 
A benefit sharing scheme will be implemented by the government to ensure Philippines’ own “genetic” wealth from endemic plants and animals will give economic opportunities to indigenous people (IP) and poverty-stricken rural communities. 
   The Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) framework from the country’s genetic wealth will be adopted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as its compliance to the Nagoya Protocol (NP). 
    The NP is a 2015 global agreement for the access of all to genetic resources and traditional knowledge and their equitable economic sharing.  

A genetic resource is a physical object of biological origin and the intellectual information associated with it such as traditional knowledge (Learn Nagoya). An example is a native people’s knowledge on the use of a plant as treatment for an illness. 

Nagoya Protocol. Credit- Cryoarks

  The poorest of society that come from ancestral domains (indigenous people) in the boondocks and rural communities are among targeted beneficiaries of the treaty.   
   The DENR project will be carried out over six years to be financed under the seventh cycle of ghe Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). 
   ”The project will increase economic opportunity and biodiversity conservation for local communities and IPs stemming from fair and equitable sharing  of biodiversity benefits,” according to a memorandum for DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Natividad Y. Bernardino. 
   The project “Implementing the National Framework for Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge”  costs a total of $26.015 million.  Of this, $4.384 million is taken up by GEF and $21.631 million is co-financed by Philippines, mainly government. 
   The first component of the project is harmonizing policies with the Nagoya Protocol on bioprospecting policies and scientific research.   
   These policies include commercialization of genetic resources on flora and fauna (plants and animal life).   
   Over the last decade,  scientific research activities have surged due to the rise of intellectuals and “Balik Scientist” Filipinos from abroad.   These intellectuals were given incentives by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)  to participate in the local “brain gain.” 
   Filipino researchers have been exploring the production of drugs, pharmaceutical products, natural ingredients for food, clothing and raw materials for home furnishings, commercial products, and industrial products such  as commercial vehicles’ accessories.   

They have been tapping Philippines’ natural resources of plants and animals from its rich biodiversity. 
   “Research undertaking with the private sector for possible uptake will be established,” according to the report submitted by DENR-Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Services Assistant Director Sabrina R. Cruz. 
   The Philippines was one of the first countries to implement access and benefit sharing under Article 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) through Executive Order 275 (1995). 
   It has since been amended by the Wildlife Act (Republic Act or RA 9147) and supported by the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (RA 8371 of 1997). 
    The DENR-BMB will lead the project.  Other implementing partners are Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, DENR Regions 3 and 4, Department of Agriculture (DA), PENRO (Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office)-Sorsogon, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), DOST,  and local government units (LGUs). 
   The second component consists of information dissemination on the national policy on access to these genetic resources.   
   Policies on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR– patents and commercial licensing instruments) will be strengthened.   It will carry out capacity building for IPs and local communities in asserting their rights over their Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP). 

Nagoya Protocol. Credit-Learn Nagoya 

   The third component consists of facilitating negotiation for ABS agreements.   
   “It will support community protocols for security Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) to ensure fair and equitable sharing of both the monetary and non-monetary benefits of genetic resources.”  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR socio-economic resilience project in Catubig Watershed to sustain Samar Protected Landscape, support rice farmers  


May 9, 2022  

A Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) project to build socio-economic resilience in the Catubig Watershed will protect the Samar Protected Landscape and Seascape while supporting the livelihood of rice farmers, craftsmen, and fishers.  

The Small Grants Programme (SGP) Phase 7, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), was launched by DENR last April 8.   

It involves livelihood and biodiversity projects in four sites. These are in Aurora province (Sierra Madre), Calamianes Group of Islands in Palawan, and Siargao Protected Landscape and Seascape in Surigao del Norte.  

Phase 7 sustains the project that was started under GEF-Phase 5.  

The DENR-GEF SGP-7’s work in Catubig Watershed may have the biggest environmental and socio-economic growth impact among Samar natives.  

Calamianes Island, Palawan. Credit Coyxxx

While known to have a rich biodiversity profile with mixed dipterocarp forests, Samar Island is also known as the most cyclone-prone region in the country.   

The National Economic and Develoment Authority reported in 2015 that Northern Samar, where the Catubig Watershed is located, had a poverty incidence of 61.6 percent. This makes it one of the country’s poorest provinces.  

The SGP-7 costs $13.78  million of which $4.436 million comes from a GEF grant. The Philippine government co-finances $9.214 million. “  

“It is urgent that we strengthen the resilience of our community-based organizations. They are the frontliners in conservation and livelihood interventions. In this period of climate change and biodiversity degradation, a more integrated effort of interventions is essential,” DENR Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said.  

Siargao Protected Landscape and Seascape. Credit Travel Guide Pinoy

Greg Sarmiento, executive director of the Eastern Visayas Partnership for Rural Development, said the launch of SGP-7 is timely due to recent climate hazards experienced in the province.   

The Samar Island Natural Park is the second largest natural park in the Philippines covering 335,107 hectares. It has the country’s largest contiguous tract of old-growth forest.   

The Catubig Watershed is a major source of water supply in the household. The newly completed dam whose water comes from Catubig Watershed irrigates some 8,000 hectares of rice farm.   

“Catastrophic incidents like the onslaught of Typhoon Odette highlight the urgent need to continue our efforts on disaster risk reduction and resilience building,” UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran said. 


Samar Island Natural Park. Credit- Vismin.ph

“These devastating events exacerbate the already limiting and unpredictable situation brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The promising changes being offered by SGP-7 are expected to effect change towards strengthening governance systems even for disaster response, recover, and building resilient communities.”    SGP-7 has a livelihood component. The project encourages natives to engage in biodiversity friendly enterprises (BDFEs) in order to help veer them away from illegal logging and fishing activities. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR project maps accreditation of People’s Organizations as “good forest stewards” in light of aim to export forest products, industrialize  

April 30, 2022  

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is mapping an accreditation system for People’s Organizations (PO) to become certified “good forest stewards” under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) especially as POs desire to export their forest products.  

   POs are now planned to be accredited by DENR even as Philippines hopes to pursue industrialization that will require excellent management of natural resources.  

   “PO accreditation is an important mechanism to transform POs into exemplary resource managers. POs are considered as ‘de facto’ managers, a partner rather than a contractor,” according to DENR Assistant Secretary Marcial C. Amaro.   

  Amaro said there is a need to revisit the draft Department administrative Order on PO accreditation in order to put this policy in place.  

“(We need) to conduct a national consultative meeting for possible institutionalization of PO accreditation with concerned CBFM (Community Based Forest Management) personnel by the fourth quarter of 2022,” he said.   

The PO accreditation will have a significant role in providing a sustainable livelihood for upland residents in order to discourage them from illegal logging and illegal wildlife hunting. The accreditation system was piloted as under DENR’s project Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP).  

   “The pervasive problems of poverty and landlessness have driven people to using public lands.  Inevitably, POs have become important players in the management of public land—timberland and multiple-use zones in protected areas,” said Dr. Manuel L. Bonita, DENR INREMP consultant.  

   The accreditation under FSC standards will enable POs to have easier access to export markets that look for international forest management certification.   

   Some 20 POs operating in nine provinces in four regions have already been accredited through the piloted accreditation program in 2019-2021 of INREMP. Having gained the trust of INREMP, the POs were allowed to enjoy substantial cash advances as  an intervention to natural resources management.  

   This allowed INREMP to accelerate lagging disbursement of the project’s fund.  

   ”In the future, forest products chain-of-custody must be added to the PO Accreditation System. This facilitates regulation of forest product harvesting  and inhibit corrupt practices,” said Bonita  at an INREMP Exit Conference last April 21.   

   DENR wants to sustain the accreditation program even after the closure of INREMP which is now on-going until June 2022.  

   POs are beneficiaries of DENR’s forest management contracts — Community Based Forest Management Program (CBFMP) and National Greening Program (NGP). The success of CBFMP and NGP depends on the transformation of POs into certified resource managers.   

   Being an accredited resource manager, one should abide by the Principles, Criteria, and Indicators (PCI) of good forest stewardship.   

   A PO applying for accreditation goes through an initial assessment and a series of annual assessments.    

   “An exemplary PO should not slide backward into an irresponsible resource manager,” said Bonita.     

   PO certification can be a testing ground for forest certification and “ultimately as an alternative or precursor to forest certification” (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Biofin partners with Blue Finance in training programs for managing biodiversity-rich Oriental Mindoro marine resources 

April 23, 2022 

The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (Biofin) has partnered with marine conservation organization Blue Finance to train people’s organizations (PO) in managing biodiversity-rich marine resources in  Oriental Mindoro. 

   The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in a project with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been introducing biodiversity finance solutions to local government units (LGUs). 

   In Oriental Mindoro, its partnership with Biofin and Blue Finance is enabling it to raise fund in order to sustain conservation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). 

   “A key obstacle to effectively managing MPAs is a lack of economic resources.  But at the Oriental Mindoro MPA in the Philippines, a consortium of dedicated partners is turning one of the world`s most productive ecosystems into a working business case,” according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

   Oriental Mindoro has an MPA known to be home to endangered species including “whale sharks, hawksbill turtles, dugongs and many more exciting and critical species.” 

  In its second quarter report, Biofin indicated that it has developed a “private sector strategy.”  It is a program that will significantly aid in raising funds for biodiversity conservation programs. 

   Public Private Partnerships or PPP is a strategic approach to raising financing for biodiversity projects in protected areas. 

    “A study on the extractive industry with reference to potential financing mechanisms and the feasibility of third party monitors will be undertaken. Meetings with IKEA, Shore It Up, and BDO were held to explore potential CSR activities with NGOs (non government organizations),”  according to a Biofin report. 

   “A study on the extractive industry with reference to potential financing mechanisms and the feasibility of third party monitors will be undertaken.” 

   These are Biofin’s other approaches to raising financing: 

1.     Biofin will assist BMB-CAWED (Biodiversity Management Bureau-Caves, Wetlands and Other Ecosystems Division) as it comes up with policy recommendations on the integration of biodiversity in the infrastructure sector 

2.     Development of Biodiversity Friendly Enterprises (BDFEs) particularly in protected areas in Mindanao where a survey has been completed and now under study 

   The Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP), which started in 2015 and will last until year 2028, will cost P24 billion yearly.  A budget deficit of P19 billion yearly exists. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR USAID ‘SIBOL’ project boosts environment protection, economic activity in farflung rural areas  

April 20, 2022  

A Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) project that estimates the economic value of the country’s natural resources is seen to boost environmental protection and will support economic activity in farflung rural areas.  
   A DENR project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) called Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) has elevated Philippines’ appreciation for natural resources and biodiversity protection. Project cost is P1.1 billion. 
   SIBOL has trained  Filipino natural resource managers on how to properly account for environment-provided benefits.  
   A total of 275 government staff and researchers from Philippine public universities has completed a three-month training that will support the government’s promotion of economic growth through the conservation of the country’s ecosystems.  
   The training serves as a foundation for incorporating environmental valuation into the design of economic plans at the local level.  
   The Philippines’ capability to quantify the economic value of its natural resources will be applied in natural capital accounting.  

   “When we have competent natural resource managers who are able to account for and monitor the economic value of ecosystem services, the country is in a better position to understand the drivers behind natural resource depletion. It’s a necessary intervention that will preserve the country’s biodiversity, oceans, and landscapes,” said USAID Philippines Environment Office Director John Edgar.  
   Natural resource managers and researchers from the DENR, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, National Economic and Development Authority, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, and six public universities learned various methods for measuring the value of benefits derived from the environment such as food, water and fuel, soil conservation, and coastal protection.  
   “This (capability will help in) updating the country’s asset accounts, or the value of resources found in Philippine forests, coral reefs, and fisheries,” said the DENR. 

Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve. Credit-Justgola

   According to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the Philippines is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world, which account for 70% of the entire planet’s species of flora and fauna.    
   SIBOL is a five-year natural resources management and biodiversity conservation project.   It is among the biggest and most important initiatives in the country that could profoundly impact the environment in generations to come, according to USAID.  
    Launched in 2020, SIBOL aims to work with the government to achieve its goals of improving natural resource governance, stimulating public and private sector investments, and reducing environmental crime.   

Siargao Islands Portected Landscape and Seascape. Credit-Issuu

Such goals will lead to greater ecosystem stability and inclusive green growth. SIBOL has set up four sites in the following key protected areas in the Philippines:  

1. Masinloc-Oyon Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape, a coastal area that supports thousands of fishers and coastal communities threatened by mining, overfishing, and population growth  
2. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve, which are forest areas of the ecologically important Palawan province and significant habitats for biodiversity  
3. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, a forest area that is home to abundant biodiversity and more than 12,000 indigenous people threatened by logging and mining pressures  
4. Siargao Island Protected Landscape and Seascape, a marine protected area surrounded by the country’s largest contiguous mangrove area and is threatened by over-fishing and the exploitation of other natural resources. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape and Seascape

DENR partners with Japan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, “decarbonize” society toward “Asia zero emissions community”

April 16, 2022  

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has strengthened its partnership with the Ministry of the Environment of Japan (MOEJ) for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission toward a “decarbonized” society and “Asia zero emissions community.”  

During the Philippines-Japan Bilateral Environmental Policy Dialogue last March, DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said the Bilateral Environmental Policy Dialogue served as an avenue for DENR and MOEJ to partner in protection against the impact of climate change.   

“The Philippines, being an archipelago, is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. Our country has faced several typhoons for as long as we can remember. Partnering with Japan in terms of technology and know-how on measures to mitigate climate change is indeed vital at this time,” Sampulna said.   

DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones said the Philippines remains committed to the”projected greenhouse gas emission reduction and avoidance of 75 percent.”    

MOEJ Vice Minister Tokutaro Nakai said the agency was deepening its cooperation with the DENR through strategies such as Initiative on Fluorocarbons Life Cycle Management, Joint Crediting Mechanism.    

Other initiatives are on transparency reporting on greenhouse gas emissions, city-to-city collaboration, and knowledge and tools sharing on climate adaptation projects and waste management technology support.   

“In the area of climate change, we were able to confirm that there are some areas of cooperation such as the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as well as the development of the long-term strategies. We will make efforts to work for that and hope to cooperate with you in the future attempts, too,” Nakai said.   

Nakai said that the MOEJ would accelerate its effort to decarbonize Asia for the establishment of the so-called “Asia zero-emissions community.”   

The Bilateral Environment Dialogue was part of the first-ever Philippines-Japan Environmental Week organized by DENR and MOEJ.  

The rest of the activities included technical level and plenary sessions on various areas of waste management, waste-to-energy projects, and climate change.   

Asian utilities are key to net zero carbon. Credit-Euromoney

Through a joint statement, the DENR and the MOEJ agreed to take actions to tackle climate change. The two countries will work on advancing the life cycle management of fluorocarbon in the Philippines and Japan to contribute to the Philippines’ hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) emissions reduction.   

“On fluorocarbon, both sides confirm the ongoing and future cooperation between the DENR and the MOEJ in potential assessment of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) collection and destruction. Other cooperation projects are on capacity development of policymakers and technicians and utilization of the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) under the Initiative on Fluorocarbons Life Cycle Management (IFL),” the joint statement read.   

As part of the Partnership to Strengthen Transparency for co-Innovation (PaSTI) program, the DENR and MOEJ will continue to work on capacity-building in the Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) and waste sectors.  

Getting to net zero built in the environment. Credit-Arcadis

These projects will strengthen Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting and incentives for action.  

The partnership also calls for engagement of the private and local government stakeholders as a key component.   

Renewable energy sources in Southeast Asia. Credit-ResearchGate

“On adaptations, both sides confirm the importance of sharing the knowledge and tools for implementing adaptation projects in vulnerable communities through the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Information Platform (AP-PLAT) and the National Integrated Climate Change Database Information and Exchange System (NICCDIES).”