Biodiversity Partnership Program
The United Nations Development Programme – Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) has awarded a grant to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), for the project on “Partnerships for Biodiversity Conservation: Mainstreaming in Local Agricultural Landscapes”, also known as the Biodiversity Partnerships Project (BPP). The BPP was designed to address habitat fragmentation due to inadequate policies, tools and capacities in encouraging the participation of local government units (LGUs) to mainstream biodiversity conservation in local development planning, particularly in agricultural landscapes.
The main purpose of the project is to enhance the capacity of LGUs in mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in production landscapes and seascapes towards the protection and improvement of environment and sustainable management of natural resources. The BPP has adopted three-pronged and interrelated approaches that would (a) strengthen enabling policies at the national level; (b) enhance capacities of LGUs; and (c) field level demonstration of improved capacities in selected pilot sites.
The Northern Negros Natural Park in Negros Occidental province covers 11 municipalities and cities. It has a total land area of 80,454.50 hectares based on its proclamation as a protected area (PA). Approximately, 30,178.7 hectares of the PA remains a rainforest, and is therefore the most extensive remaining forest in Negros Island and West Visayas Bio-Geographic Region.
The NNNP supports important populations of many severely threatened West Visayan endemic species, including Visayan spotted deer (Rusa alfredi), Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons), Negros scops owl (Otus nigrorum), Visayan bleeding-heart pigeon (Gallicolumba keayi), and Visayan writhed hornbill (Aceros waldeni) – all are IUCN – World Conservation Union (IUCN) categorized as critically endangered species. In addition, the Negros shrew (Crocidura negrina), Philippine tube-nosed fruit bat (Nyctimene rabori), Visayan tarictic hornbill (Penelopides panini), White-throated jungle flycatcher (Rhynomyias albigularis) and the Flame-templed babbler (Stachyrus speciosa) have been recorded in NNNP, all of which are listed as IUCN endangered species. Diverse threatened endemic lower vertebrates, invertebrates and many flowering plants have also been noted in NNNP, which also supports large numbers of other Philippine threatened endemic species. It is categorized as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by Haribon Foundation and Birdlife International and as both a national Conservation Priority Area (CPA) and a Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) by the DENR-PAWB.
Through time, however, the NNNP’s biodiversity status has deteriorated due to conversion of its forest into other purposes, primarily agriculture and settlement. About 40,643 hectares of the PA is already occupied with settlers who are already enjoying permanent residency status. The estimated population in NNNP already reaches 40,913, consisting of 8,814 households. There are 3,705 holders of the Certificate of Stewardship Contract (CSC) under the Integrated Social Forestry Program (ISF), which was already devolved by the DENR to the provincial government. Some CSC holders committed violations on the terms of agreement of their land tenure. Illegal and destructive forest activities, such as kaingin, timber poaching, charcoal production, wildlife gathering and treasure hunting continue to threaten the integrity of NNNP as a PA. Numerous permanent structures related to basic social and economic services are already available in NNNP, such as irrigation system, telecommunication towers, school buildings, road networks and many others.
The provincial government of Negros Occidental, through the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO), DENR and other national agencies, LGUs, NGOs and POs started to implement programs and projects in addressing the conservation issues in NNNP. However, with the presence of settlements and intensive agriculture in the PA, it is very necessary that additional interventions shall be provided to ensure the integration of biodiversity conservation into the agricultural landscape of NNNP and thus this project is most appropriate and feasible.