The Philippines is one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth, containing 70% of the world’s plants and animal species due to its geographic isolation. However, the country’s natural resources are under great threat from harmful human activities.
The major threats to the country’s rich biodiversity include:
• expansion of agricultural activities
• wildlife hunting
• increased settlement and migration
All of these threats have contributed to the degradation of fragile ecosystems in the Philippines, which local farmers and fishers rely on for their livelihoods.
With the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Relief International launched a two-year natural resources management program to curb threats against the country’s precious natural resources. Our teams worked closely with local community members, whom we named “emerging champions,” to improve the management of natural resources at the village level while also identifying opportunities for sustainable economic development. We also partnered with the regional Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Protected Area Management Boards, various environmental technical working groups, and the private sector to ensure the participation of all key stakeholders in protecting critical resources from further environmental damage.
Together, participants in our program worked to map threats, identify key species, and improve watershed management boards to manage their ecosystems for biodiversity conservation and protection of critical ecosystem services, such as water quality levels in their communities. The program also established supported alternative livelihoods including: sustainable tree nurseries, offering community members an additional income-generating opportunity through the sale of seedlings and community eco-tourism development to conserve ancient mangrove forests and their endangered species including rare birds, reptiles, fish and mammals. This community enterprise was awarded the first Wildlife Friendly™ Certification in the Philippines.
These various activities equipped participants in our program with the technical skills and knowledge of the main drivers of environmental degradation, empowering them to protect and improve biodiversity in their communities while ensuring their economic well-being now and for the future. The project also laid the groundwork for future payment for ecosystem services mechanisms (PES), including water PES mechanisms to sustainably finance conservation work.
PHILIPPINES – Southern Palawan’s Mount Mantalingahan and Mount Victoria and Anepanan Ranges; Mount Kitanglad and Mount Kalatungan Mountain Ranges; Mount Hilong-Hilong and Mount Diwata Ranges.
- Economic Opportunity