Polillo Islands Biodiversity Conservation Programme
The Polillo Islands Biodiversity Conservation Programme was initiated in 1997 with core funding support from the North of England Zoological Society (NEZS, Chester Zoo), which enabled the development of a local forest/wildlife wardening scheme, i.e. the Polillo Ecology Stewardship Project (PESP). During the initial phases of the PESP emphasis was placed on protection and monitoring of threatened species and habitats, especially the Sibulan Watershed and other key habitats in Polillo Municipality, though it was soon expanded to include: wardening activities in neighboring parts of Bordeus Municipality; to also provide guidance and assistance to researchers visiting other parts of the Polillos; assist relevant Local Government Units (LGUs) in their eco-tourism and other initiatives, including municipal ordinances protecting wildlife and their habitats; work closely with the local Bantay-Dagat programmes; establishing an indigenous tree nursery for habitat restoration projects; and assist diverse other awareness campaigns, personnel training activities, etc.
Initiation of this project, coupled with these earlier surveys, also generated wider interest and greater awareness of the biological importance of the region, and soon attracted the attention of other researchers, both locally and internationally. These included a series of joint University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and Oxford University expeditions commencing in 1999; longer-term field studies of Gray’s Monitor Lizard and Philippine Cockatoo; diverse other biological surveys, including a wide-ranging coastal habitats survey in 2003 and various educational trainings and awareness campaigns.
In 2003 the Polillo Island Biodiversity Foundation, Inc. (PIBCFI) was established and has been successful in pioneering community-based conservations sites in the Polillo Islands.