In the mid 1980s a group of Negrenses concerned about the vanishing forests of Negros decided to do something about it before it was too late and before there wasn't a single hectare of natural forest left.
Some 25 years later that small movement has grown into one of the most active and important environmental organizations in the country.
Recently, and fittingly at Nature's Village in Talisay, the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation, Inc (NFEFI) marked it's 25th anniversary with the financial support of sponsor CEMEX.
But it was more than just a celebration, it was also an appeal to fellow-Negrenses and local companies to rally round with and provide funds to allow NFEFI and its groups of dedicated volunteers to continue the vital work of protecting and conserving the fragile environment of Negros.
Speaking at the reception, NFEFI president Paul Lizares highlighted the many years that NFEFI volunteers have worked tirelessly to reforest hundreds of hectares especially in the all-important Upper Calimban-Imbang watershed, which provides clean drinking water to Bacolod.
But there are still hundreds of hectares that need to be restored. NFEFI cannot do it alone. The foundation needs help.
He also highlighted the NFEFI Conservation Breeding Center by the Provincial Lagoon. Today, it's one of the country's leading breeding centers and home to 120 endangered animals and birds. But it requires more funding if it is to continue and expand the work of keeping and breeding rare species, some of which are almost at the point of becoming extinct.
Lizares stressed that time was running out. "If our children and our childrens' children are to enjoy a beautiful environment, we must all pull together. The environment of Negros is in grave danger as more forest land is converted into other land uses and an increasing number of inhabitants engage in illegal logging, poaching and the selling of endangered species as exotic pets.
Lizares appealed to members of the public to become sustaining members of NFEFI. "It's only Php1,000 a year. That money can make a lot of difference," he said.
"And companies can become members at only Php5,000 - a small price to pay to know your organization is helping to protect what is the birthright of every Negrense."
Lizares is inviting everyone who cares for the environment to step into the world of nature and visit NFEFI's Conservation Breeding Center next to he Capitol Building in Bacolod City and see some of the120 endangered animals and birds.
Visitors will get the chance to see the unique and threatened wildlife of Negros including the Visayan spotted deer, Visayan Tarictic hornbills and Visyan warty pigs. Many of these animals are found only in the remanding forest areas of Negros.
Lizares added that whatever help is given it will make a difference. Every centavo raised from public or corporate support is spent in the fight to protect and preserve the local environment so that future generations can enjoy the rich biodiversity of Negros.
"The future is in our hands", he said.
Anyone interested in adding support to help the environment of Negros can call NFEFI on 433 9234 or trustee Robert Harland on 0916 343 7048.