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Biodiversity center agreement forged

By virtue of the Negros Occidental Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 0691, Series of 2014, Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. and the Negros Forest and Ecological Foundation Inc. for the establishment, operation and maintenance of the Negros 1st Biodiversity Conservation and Education Center at the Panaad Sports Complex in Barangay Mansilingan, Bacolod City.

The center will provide facilities for the captive breeding of highly threatened endemic species, and serve as the venue for information, education, research and training on biodiversity conservation with world-class amenities.

The N1BCEC will be the expanded and much improved version of the existing Biodiversity Conservation Center at the NFEFI compound at South Capitol Road, Bacolod City. All wildlife species currently in the custody of the BCC shall be transferred to the N1BCEC once the necessary infrastructures are already in place.

William Oliver, a British wildlife biologist, who had spent almost two decades in biodiversity conservation in the Philippines, conceptualized and authored the BCC under the auspices of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Program. He was working on the design of the new center when he passed away in September this year.

One of the purposes of the BCC is to ensure the preservation of genetic resources of endemic species that are already at the brink of extinction in the wild, and hopefully, the successfully bred species shall be reintroduced back to their natural habitat.

The MOA states that the provincial government shall make a parcel of land at the Panaad Sports Complex available and free of charge for this purpose, and to construct and maintain the required infrastructure. The structures will include pre-release holding area, where animals can be weaned from human dependence before being released back to their natural habitats. The center will have a biodiversity education and training facility, a library and an auditorium, visitors’ center that will also provide a bookstore and souvenir and coffee shop, and quarters for visiting scientists, researchers and staff, among others.

The center will further showcase an arboretum for unique and most threatened Philippine flora, indigenous tree and plant nursery to support forest restoration efforts, food production garden to supply the feeding requirements of the housed animals, and demonstration center for the promotion of natural habitat restoration. Other basic facilities and infrastructure, such as perimeter wall, workshop, garage, toilets and quarantine enclosures, shall likewise be constructed.

The provincial government shall primarily own the N1BCEC, while PBCFI is in charge of the technical management, with NFEFI providing administrative and support services, including the nursery and production area operations, as well as in securing and maintaining necessary permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on the custody of animals at the center.

It is stipulated in the MOA that the provincial government shall provide the necessary personal and annual budget for the operations and maintenance of the center, while PBCFI will ensure the compliance of the center to scientific and international standards in animal management. A management committee, composed of representatives from the three parties involved in the MOA, shall be created to oversee the overall operations of the center. The MOA covers a 25-year period and renewable based on the mutual consent and agreement of all involved parties.*

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