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Ilonggo Network

Biodiversity friendly enterprises

Silay and Victorias cities in Negros Occidental were among the presenters in the biodiversity friendly business and investment forum held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Manila Wednesday last week.

The event was hosted by the United Nations Development Programme – Global Environment Facility and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Biodiversity Management Bureau, through their Biodiversity Partnerships Project.

The Northern Negros Natural Park, of which Victorias and Silay share certain areas, is one of the eight demonstration sites of the BPP. This project aims to forge partnerships with various stakeholders in mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in local land use planning and governance, agriculture, tourism, investment and business, and national policy directions. The Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. is the BPP’s partner in project implementation in NNNP.

Victorias Mayor Francis Palanca presented the potentials of Gawahon Ecopark, a highland mountain resort operated by the city government at the border of the NNNP, for ecological tourism. He said Victorias would capitalize the findings of the field survey conducted by the PBCFI, which claim that the forest within and surrounding Gawahon accounts for numerous endemic wildlife species, particularly birds. Palanca added that Victorias is now promoting bird watching and other nature-based and outdoor activities in Gawahon, such as camping and hiking. Aside from natural forest, there is also a network of gorgeous waterfalls, which is an added feature of Gawahon, in addition to its cool weather and environment, Palanca said.

Ching Ledesma, Silay environment officer, made a presentation on various merchandises produced out of non-timber forest products by the Patag Farmers Integrated Social Forestry Association. These products include colorful and meticulously hand-woven home accessories, such as baskets, trays, decorations, and glass covers, that are made from tiger grass, a perennial type of grass growing at the slopes of Barangay Patag. Ledesma further presented assorted personal accessories made of nito, like bracelets, pendants, necklaces and earrings. The PAFISPA is trying to innovate further to make its products more attractive and competitive, including the improvement of packaging and labeling.

The forum was organized to promote economic enterprises that do not, in anyway, negatively affect the rich biodiversity of the Philippines. It aims to encourage the sustainable use of biological resources by resource dependent local communities so that they will get away from destructive livelihood practices. The biodiversity friendly business criteria include the use of raw materials that does not further encourage ecosystems degradation, provision of sustainable income to local communities and consideration of the impact of economic activities to the biodiversity conservation of a particular area, among others.

The biodiversity friendly business and investment gained the support of no less than President Benigno Aquino III. In his message delivered during the forum by Undersecretary Analiza Teh of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the President asked more private investments that are not only limited to income-generating, but also the sustainable use of the country’s natural resources. Such investments, according to the President, will promote biodiversity conservation while fueling inclusive growth for the Philippines’ sustainable development.

The President added, “The Philippines is home to more than 53,000 species of plants and animals, many of which are endemic to our country, we have scenic landscapes of flora and fauna while our seascapes are teeming with diverse marine life."*

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