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Biodiversity friendly products

I visited the 30 th Negros Trade Fair in Makati yesterday, and I was glad to see many products that are made of indigenous and recycled materials.

One thing that immediately caught my attention was one of the displays at the booth of the Hacienda Crafts, which was a placemat made of cogon grass with a label that it is a biodiversity friendly product. I asked the saleslady where the product emanated and she said it was from Brgy. Patag in Silay City, Negros Occidental.

Since the label of the product showed the logo of the United Nations Development Programme-Global Environment Facility supported Biodiversity Partnerships Project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, I concluded that the placemat was made by members of the Patag Farmers Integrated Social Forestry Association. The PAFISFA is one of the partner people's organizations of the BPP, which is being implemented in the Northern Negros Natural Park by the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. The project provided capacity building to PAFISFA in product development. Some products of the PAFISFA have already been exhibited in other fair trades participated in by the BPP.

The BPP assisted numerous communities in eight demonstration sites in the Philippines to promote and develop biodiversity friendly products to arrest further endangerment of our endemic species and natural habitats. The project is assisting communities to identify materials that can be sustainably harvested, particularly regenerative non-timber forest products, for production purposes, without impairing the natural ecosystems. It is the ultimate goal of the BPP to conserve biodiversity while providing additional income to forest dependent communities.

While going through the different displays at the Negros Trade Fair, I actually observed several other quality and world-class products that may be considered biodiversity friendly. A number of these products are made of bamboo, recycled papers, coconut shells and twigs, broken glasses and bottles, grasses and many others.

The concept of biodiversity friendly products only started to evolve at the national level very recently, but it seems the Association of Negros Producers, that is hosting the annual Negros Trade Fair in Manila, and its members are already ahead of this thing, and it is a very laudable effort.

At this point in time, I hope that the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the DENR, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry, and through the BPP, shall push for the official certification of biodiversity friendly products. Of course, there are still a lot of considerations in terms of criteria and processes of doing the certification, but I think it would provide added value and premium to products, and further popularize and gain support for the protection of our threatened biodiversity.

It is important to note that the concept of biodiversity friendly products further considers the production system and not only the ultimate outcome. The processes in the production should not in any way be detrimental to the environment and even to the health and wellbeing of workers.

It is, therefore, necessary that the production should not use harmful chemicals and does not create pollution in whatever forms. The production should further ensure not to negatively affect our endemic species and habitats. Much more, it is the eventual aspiration that through the promotion and implementation of biodiversity friendly products, we can provide sustainable income to communities that are engaged in destructive livelihood activities. *

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