Conservation agreement inked

In what could be a most timely event during the celebration of Environment Week in Negros Occidental, the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc (PBCFI) and the Negros Forest and Ecological Foundation, Inc (NFEFI) signed a >memorandum of understanding to further strengthen their partnership in advancing species and habitat protection, conservation and recovery on Negros Island.

PBCFI is a national NGO promoting conservation in biodiversity-rich regions in the country while NFEFI is one of the local pioneering conservation NGOs in the Philippines.

NFEFI president and executive director, Paul Lizares (left) and former Mount Kanla-on Natural Park Superintendent and currently the managing director of PBCFI, Errol Gatumbato sign the conservation partnership agreement between the PBCFI and NFEFI* (William Oliver Photo)

The agreement, signed by PBCFI managing director and former Mount Kanla-on Natural Park Superintendent Errol Gatumbato and NFEFI president and executive director Paul Lizares, emphasizes the continuing support of PBCFI in strengthening the organizational capacities of NFEFI in advancing and sustaining the delivery of conservation outcomes.

This will become the first ever species “dating center” at the Threatened Species Conservation and Education Center in NFEFI compound* (Joanne Mae Justo Photo)

In particular, it highlights program and project development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation as well as resource mobilization and generation.

NFEFI, jointly with PBCFI, is currently operating one of the most successful conservation breeding centers in the country. Located at NFEFI's compound in South Capitol Road, Bacolod City, it houses some 18 endemic species of the Philippines which are already threatened with extinction in the wild.

A threatened Visayan Spotted Deer born at NFEFI (Robert Harland photo)

"The center has already successfully bred several species such as the critically endangered Visayan spotted deer (Rusa alfredi) and Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons negrinus), that are now ready for reintroduction back to their natural habitats. One objective of the center is to reintroduce successfully bred species into vacant habitats in Negros," said Lizares.

With the support of numerous funding partners from the US, UK, Germany and other European Countries, PBCFI has been providing financial, technical and managerial assistance to the center to make sure its operations are highly scientific, professional and effective.

Under the partnership agreement, the center will now be known as the “Threatened Species Conservation and Education Center”.

"This change is designed to raise awareness and appreciation among the general public of the different endemic species of the Philippines, particularly those of Negros and the West-Visayan Bio-geographic Zone," said Errol Gatumbato.

"It's also intended for conservation research, education and personnel biodiversity training," he added.

A Visayan Spotted Deer and her fawn born at NFEFI (Robert Harland photo)

The partnership agreement also highlights a plan to turn the current Biodiversity Conservation Center in the NFEFI compound into a biodiversity information, education and training hub along with the NFEFI offices as well as becoming the heart of PBCFI's West Visayas Regional Biodiversity Programme.

It will include a library, audio-visual room and display area.

A management steering committee with representatives from both organizations will be formed to ensure the implementation of the partnership agreement. The committee will prepare and implement business and marketing plans to guarantee the sustainability of the center and other on-site conservation measures.

The development of the breeding center was originally conceptualized by William Oliver, one of PBCFI's founding trustees along with Gerry Ledesma, one of the NFEFI founding officers.