The signing of a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to develop biodiversity-friendly enterprises (BDFEs) within and around the municipality of Santa Teresita in Cagayan Province was one of the highlights of the opening of the town's 5th National Ecotourism Festival and 2nd Namunit Festival on February 24, 2017. The MOU was jointly signed by Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim, Santa Teresita Mayor Lolita Garcia and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 2 Director Gil Aromin.

bpp bdfe bakong bamboo walkway 600pxBakong flourishes in Lake Bangalao (BPP-PMU)The collaboration aims to support the development, enhancement and value-adding of the existing and potential biodiversity-friendly products of Santa Teresita, which is part of the Northeastern Cagayan Key Biodiversity Area, one of demonstration sites of the Biodiversity Partnerships Project (BPP). The project is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF). This partnership also signals the continuation of the biodiversity-friendly enterprise work initiated under the project.

In particular, the newly-formed partnerships will sustain the support to the home-grown community-based enterprise using the raw material out of bakong (Hanguana malayana), a water-growing plant native to the Philippines and abundant in the town’s Lake Bangalao. Said collaboration is also seen to pave the way for the provision of more technical assistance and relevant support to the upscaling, market linkage and promotion of biodiversity-friendly products from people’s organizations (POs), local government units (LGUs) and communities practicing biodiversity-friendly and community-based enterprises while ensuring the ecological integrity of local biodiversity resources. Santa Teresita is also home to hundreds of caves, limestone hills and various natural features with strong potential for eco-tourism activities.

Biodiversity-friendly enterprises or BDFEs are economic activities and practices of micro, small and medium enterprises that create wealth and value and open opportunities for the equitable sharing of benefits among stakeholders. BDFEs include local government units and people's organizations that promote the sustainable use of biological resources.

Since 2014, BPP has been assisting the LGU of Santa Teresita to develop and expand its bakong enterprise. With support from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Design Center of the Philippines, and other agencies, bakong is developed into a viable raw material for handicrafts. The Laguna de Cagayan Handicrafts Association (LCHA) – a local PO – has recently started producing weaved bakong fabric out of a 50-50 mix of bakong fiber and other industrially-produced threads. (BPP/ Edge Genciagan)


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