Iloilo City, Philippines – The Forest and Climate Protection Project in Panay (ForClim) between the governments of Germany and the Philippines, which has been implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in two phases that span almost eight years now, came together with partners on January 23, 2018 to look back on their achievements and lessons learned before the project closes this year.
The anvil on which various forms of intervention of the project have been carried out – the Panay Mountain Range – is the last remaining large block of forest on Panay Island with unique biodiversity. It is, however, at risk due to unsustainable use of natural resources.
In the event called “Climate, Conservation and Communities: Lessons from Panay,” ForClim II Principal Advisor Dr. Klaus Schmitt reported the following achievements of the project:
- 451,883-ton reduction of CO2 emissions from 2011 to 2017 from protection of natural forests and rehabilitation of degraded forests;
- 149,000 hectares were declared protection forest in the Forest Land Use Plans (FLUPs) of 20 participating local government units (LGUs);
- 30,049 hectares of declared critical habitats by the LGUs; and an additional 33,570 proposed hectares, which are gradually being reviewed by the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) for subsequent declaration;
- 19,572 hectares of natural forests were covered by protection and rehabilitation agreements with stakeholders, including 1,500 upland farmers and forest-dependent communities;
- 2,202 hectares of forest were rehabilitated;
- 725 Bantay Gubat (forest guards) were trained to strengthen the enforcement of forest protection laws;
- 23 adjacent communities were given incentives for sustainable resource management (agroforestry, upland agriculture, and use of bioenergy) that also included support for 452 hectares of upland agriculture and 2,038 hectares of agroforestry, especially with lucrative coffee, cacao, and abaca crops;
- 20 Forest Land Use Plans (FLUPs) were completed through the assistance of ForClim (17 FLUPs) and Community-Based Forest and Mangrove Management Project (3 FLUPs);
- 18.5% increase in sightings of Panay’s “Big 5” endemic species – the Rafflesia speciosa plant, the Visayan Spotted Deer, Visayan Warty Pig, Panay Monitor Lizard and Visayan Writhed-billed Hornbill – from 2014 to 2017. This is a good indication that the forest protection activities are conserving the local biodiversity;
- The DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau Biodiversity Monitoring System was enhanced from an analogue system to a digital and spatial system that can be integrated into the DENR Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System.
Dr. Schmitt added, “The long-term protection of the Panay Mountain Range does not only ensure the conservation of the biodiversity hotspots and endemic species of Panay, but also supports the achievement of international climate change mitigation and adaptation targets, in particular, Aichi Target 11.”
DENR Assistant Secretary for Foreign-Assisted Projects Edwin Domingo said that the government’s forest protection efforts would continue, and was in fact being fast-tracked. He pointed out, though, the need for cooperation among the concerned government agencies and local government units to curb the issues.
The Panay “Big 5” and the importance of forest conservation were highlighted in a sand art performance during the event.
The German Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Dr. Roland Schissau graced the event.
ForClim II will have a six-month no-cost extension until August this year. (ForClim II/ Sonja Scheele)