Each of the priority regions (i.e. the West Visayas, Mindoro and Southern Luzon and their associated offshore islands) in which PBCFI concentrates its activities are among the world’s top ten most critical areas for conservation concern for the high degrees of endemism and threat. The protection of forests in these areas therefore warrants great attention for the conservation of terrestrial biodiversity. PBCFI commonly uses threatened vertebrate animals as umbrella species to promote the protection of forests, and consequently, entire ecosystems. The two main approaches we take to enhance forest protection is to firstly, help develop better management plans for existing Protected Areas (PAs), and secondly, facilitate the establishment of new ones.
Although many forests have been legally declared as PAs, most have limited enforcement measures in place. PBCFI helps the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMB, Govt. of the Philippines) and local governments in diverse ways to better protect existing forests/watersheds. For instance, we establish indigenous tree nurseries for habitat restoration, provide technical advice for the strategic locations of forest corridors and develop baseline information on biodiversity of rehabilitated sites for monitoring changes.
PBCFI also strives to lead or support the creation of more PAs aside from existing ones. We help our local partners in the identification, surveying and mapping of target forests. We also facilitate the development of site management plans, personnel training, local consultation/networking/advocacy and awareness campaigns. To date, PBCFI has achieved considerable success in establishing new conservation sites. For example, in 2004, the project ‘Pioneering Community-based Conservation Sites in the Polillo Islands’ enabled the declaration of 11 separate Local Conservation Areas (LCAs) forming the first ever LCA network of, and covering up to 13 percent of the island’s area. In Cebu, Negros, Panay, Mindoro, Calamian Islands and Southern Luzon, more new sites have also been declared or are under development.