The Forest and Climate Protection in Panay Phase II (ForClim II) Project, which is jointly implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines, supported the Autajay Aningalan Ascent bike race held in Panay Island on May 27-28, 2017 and organized by the Antique Mountain Bikers Association (AMBA) Inc. to promote biodiversity conservation in the Central Panay Mountain Range and to strengthen cooperation between a civil society group and the public sector - represented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Local Government Units (LGUs) – to successfully implement biodiversity conservation.
Championing biodiversity conservation
The event took place in the province of Antique under the theme “Race, Restore and Reconnect” and was designed specifically to trigger biodiversity awareness and raise funds for the establishment of a biodiversity corridor to connect the discontinuous forests of the Central Panay Mountain Range. More than 180 bikers participated in two bike races over two days.
Several officials supported the awareness campaign. German Ambassador to the Philippines Dr. Gordon Kricke in fact joined the bike race. Governor Rhodora Cadiao of Antique along with DENR officials from Region VI and LGU officials from San Remigio were also in attendance. Former Ms. Earth England 2015 Katrina Kendall, who is now an environmentalist and protected area ambassador, was on hand to grace the activities.
Advocating for biodiversity conservation, the event included a tree-planting activity in the Aningalan Watershed Area, as well as an Information and Education Campaign in barangay (village) Osorio II.
Moreover, coinciding with the International Biological Diversity Day on May 22, a photo contest with the theme “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism” was organized as well.
Reconnecting forests: a civil society and public sector partnership
The bike race has been organized by the Antique Mountain Bikers Association (AMBA) Inc., and from the start, has received backing from the LGU of San Remigio and barangay Aningalan.
Since last year, however, DENR and GIZ has extended support to the race through the ForClim II Project. As a result, the bike race event has been able to pool more resources to finance a biodiversity corridor connecting the forest of the Sibalom Natural Park in the province of Antique with the contiguous forest of the Central Panay Mountain Range.
The biodiversity corridor aims to link forests that have been separated by man-made forest deforestation and forest degradation. Discontinuity of the forest cover has a negative impact on biodiversity as it isolates populations of animal and plant species and jeopardizes their viability. Hence, establishing a corridor between isolated patches of forest and connectivity between protected areas is key for the conservation of the species of the Central Panay Mountain Range, in particular the “big five” threatened endemic species of Panay Island - the Visayan writhed-hornbill (Aceros waldeni), the Visayan spotted deer (Cervus alfredi), the Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons), the Panay Monitor Lizard (Varanus mabitang), and species of the parasitic plant genus Rafflesia (R. lobata and R. speciosa)
Thanks to the joint efforts of AMBA and the public sector, the first trees of the corridor have already been planted after last year’s bike race, and the implementation of project will continue with funds from the 2017 event. (ForClim2/ Léa Lacan)