EnvironmentNegros biodiversity: focus for World Wildlife Day

Negros biodiversity: focus for World Wildlife Day


- Advertisment -spot_img



Famed for its sizzling beaches and sweet sugarcane fields, the island of Negros also hosts some of the country’s rarest wildlife.

“The Philippine Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), Visayan Spotted Deer (Rusa alfredi), and Visayan Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons) once roamed freely throughout the island, but have become endangered because of hunting and habitat loss,”explained Lisa Paguntalan, executive director of Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (PhilBio). “Now they’ve been pushed into the most remote parts of Negros, like the misty forests of Kanlaon Volcano,” she added.

Within a span of about 200 years, Negros lost 96 percent of its original forest cover. Adjacent islands such as Cebu experienced similar forest loss, driving animals such as the Cebu Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons cebifrons), Ticao Tarictic Hornbill (Penelopides panini ticaensis), and possibly the Negros Fruit Dove (Ptilinopus arcanus) to extinction.

“However, some of these extinct animals might still be alive,” shared Paguntalan, who was part of a team that helped rediscover the Philippine Bareback Fruit Bat (Dobsonia chapmani) in Cebu in 2001, and Negros in 2003, a species thought extinct since the 1970s.

Starting out as a programme of international conservation organization Flora & Fauna International in 1991, PhilBio was eventually registered as a foundation in 2006, and now works to conserve lesser-known endangered animals across the Philippines, including Cebu, Mindanao and Negros, which hosts notable Key Biodiversity Areas including the Northern Negros Natural Park and Bais Bay in the north, and Apo Island off the coast of Dauin in the south.

To help conserve the biodiversity of Negros, and sustain it through a stable flow of financing, the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BioFIn) of the Department of Environment & Natural Resources, and the United Nations Development Programme recently partnered with PhilBio and the provincial governments of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Negros Occidental on 7 July 2023. “Our Province shall continue to support biodiversity financing for the conservation and protection of the environment,” said Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson.

Another MOU was signed in Negros Oriental on 18 September 2023. “This agreement fortifies our conservation efforts through sustainable financial mechanisms,” said Negros Oriental Gov. Manuel Sagarbarria.

“These two MOUs will help find, access, combine and prepare sources of biodiversity funding, including those from national and sub-national government agencies, plus businesses,” explained BioFIn Philippines Country Manager Anabelle Plantilla. “They should also help insert provincial biodiversity conservation programs into the plans of national government agencies, regional councils, and other relevant groups.”

“We’re glad to work with PhilBio and our two Negros LGUs. The DENR is always ready to work with the LGUs to help in the sustainable management of our Protected Areas and wildlife – not just in Negros, but nationwide,” said DENR Assistant Sec. for International Affairs Marcial Amaro Jr., concurrent OIC director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau.


More funds for Negros biodiversity projects

Over the past few years, the biodiversity conservation budgets of both Provinces have been rising, proving that Negrenses are serious about saving their wildlife.

Crucial to the budget increase is the crafting of the Negros Island Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan. This roadmap was developed in 2018 with assistance from the DENR-UNDP BioFIn, and since then, both Provinces have used the action plan as a tool for biodiversity budget advocacy.

From 2023 to 2024 alone, the biodiversity budget allocation of Negros Occidental grew from P297 million to P366 million.

The annual biodiversity conservation budget of Negros Oriental grew from just P3 million in 2018 to over P20 million this year.

These funds enabled a wide range of conservation initiatives for long-term protection, ranging from a wildlife field course hosted by the government of Negros Oriental to the purchase of a 10-hectare plot covering seven waterfalls in Negros Occidental’s Mambukal Sanctuary.

Both Provinces are also promoting ecotourism to help fund the management and improvement of Negros Island’s protected areas, including the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park which is a haven for birdwatchers; Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park, a top mountaineering destination in the Visayas; plus the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, known for whale and dolphin watching safaris.

“Conservation isn’t politically-delineated,” added Paguntalan. “Birds, bats, and other wildlife rarely stay within political boundaries so they deserve to be given ‘corridors’ or interlinked habitats which are protected and properly-managed. We hope this can be done throughout Negros within this decade.”

Developing finance solutions for biodiversity conservation in Negros Island is just one of the many ways that DENR-UNDP BioFIn is supporting global biodiversity conservation by mainstreaming conservation funding not only at the national level, but also at the local level.

Since 2014, BioFIn has been working with the DENR and many allies to finance the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy & Action Plan, the country’s roadmap to conserving its biodiversity. Its current target is to narrow down the national budget gap for environmental projects, estimated at P19 billion yearly.

Active in 41 countries, BioFIn works to close the financing gap for the conservation and sustainable use of the planet’s biological diversity by generating revenues, realigning and avoiding unsustainable expenses, and improving biodiversity management efforts.

“We envision a future where the biodiversity of Negros and other Philippine islands not just thrives, but regularly attracts droves of eco-tourists. This World Wildlife Day, we renew our commitment to protect Philippine biodiversity by highlighting the importance of investing in the environment,” concluded Dr. Selva Ramachandran, UNDP resident representative. (Gregg Yan)



Photo Caption: Negros is the fourth largest island in the Philippines, and is known for breathtaking national parks such as the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes. (DOT/DENR photo)


Latest news

NOCCI asks PBBM: Deny Church plea

    The Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry has written President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to ask that he turn...

City to hold public hearings about casino

    The Committee on Games and Amusement of the Dumaguete City Council is calling for a public hearing on the...

Unfounded fears

    The Negros Island Region issue appears to be heating up on social media because many people are exercising their...

DOJ asks Timor Leste: Deport Teves quick

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday called on Timor Leste authorities for the immediate deportation or extradition of...
- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_img

Ipe supports NIR

    Dumaguete City Mayor Ipe Remollo has thrown his support for the creation of the Negros Island Region. In an interview...

NegOr crop damage pegged at P229M

    Crop damage and other agricultural production losses in Negros Oriental due to El Niño have reached more than PHP229...

Must read

NOCCI asks PBBM: Deny Church plea

    The Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry has...

City to hold public hearings about casino

    The Committee on Games and Amusement of the Dumaguete...
- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_img

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you