(L-R) FFP executive director Atty. Jose Andres A. Canivel and PCSDS executive director Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta during the signing of the MOU on May 25, 2022. (Photo from PCSDS)

An understanding agreement to protect the province’s environment was signed recently between the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) and the non-profit group Forest Foundation Philippines (FFP).

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between PCSDS executive director Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta and FFP executive director Atty. Jose Andres A. Canivel on May 25 at a hotel in the city, in which both parties committed to work on the creation, preparation, and implementation of programs, initiatives, and plans to further the protection of Palawan’s environment.

In addition, they want to share and exchange knowledge, information, experience, and other resources that can improve the efficiency and efficacy of PCSDS and FFP services.

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The FFP board of trustees with their Busuanga, Palawan project grantees. (Photo from FFP website)

Both also agreed to design monitoring activities, strategies, and techniques to assist their progress in tracking success, documenting lessons learned, and planning for the future.

“We thank PCSDS, your executive director, for formalizing this partnership between the FFP and the PCSD,” Canivel said as he expressed his gratitude for the partnership with PCSDS.

“Perhaps it is a milestone for our work here in Palawan. We have always wanted to reference the work that we do to the outcomes that your leaders want, and with this instrument, it will contribute directly to the goals, objectives, and the thrusts of PCSD and the rest of the leaders here in Palawan and with this document we sincerely hope that we would be able to foster collaboration in both institutions, build our capacity to understand the conservation threats and contribute to solutions for the problems being faced here in Palawan,” he added.

Canivel noted that both FFP and PCSDS might begin with research and planning before supporting more development projects and encouraging the preservation of Palawan’s natural resources.

For his part, PCSDS executive director Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta thanked the FFP for opening doors of opportunities to the policy-making body Palawan Council Sustainable Development (PCSD).

He said that through the MOU, both PCSDS and FFP will benefit.

“The benefit of this goes both ways. We believe that through this MOU, both organizations would benefit. Palawan, in managing the biosphere, is very complex, it requires multidisciplinary efforts, and a renewed and revitalized partnership is the first step we have in tackling the problems we face one at a time,” he said.

“With partnerships like this, we believe it is our strength to find in you, and with this, we hope that we can make Palawan a more sustainable biosphere reserve,” added Matta.

The FFP has project grantees in the province, and as part of its monitoring and assessment program, its board of trustees visited their sites in Busuanga town in April. Palawan, known as the country’s last ecological frontier, is one of the foundation’s key places.

In a statement, the FFP said its BOT visited C3 Philippines’ project site for the Strengthening the Protection of Busuanga’s Beach and Mangrove Forests project, which aims to enhance and protect the mangrove and beach forest ecosystem of Busuanga Island. By protecting these areas, the forest-dependent and surrounding communities will continue to benefit from the vital ecosystem services that these forests provide.

They also spent time with Palamigan Co. to discuss challenges and lessons learned from the Provision of Micro-Ice Plant as an Alternative Livelihood for COVID-affected Community-based Enterprises project. In 2021, the Foundation awarded a grant to Palamigan Co. to provide an alternative source of livelihood for its ecotourism-based partners in the communities amid the pandemic. By continuing the support for livelihood in these communities, the Foundation and Palamigan Co. are optimistic that forest conservation gains will be sustained despite the lockdowns, which has significantly affected their business operations.

The BOT also met with the Community Crafts Association of the Philippines (CCAP) to talk about project updates. The Foundation awarded a grant to CCAP for the implementation of the Scaling Up Community-based Enterprise in Coron and Busuanga through Forest Conservation project, which aims to sustainably manage the local forest as a community asset contributing to resilient, forest-based enterprises.

Lastly, the BOT also visited the project site of the Calamianes Resilience Network (CRN). The Foundation and CRN are working together for the implementation of the Increasing Calamianes Resilience through Watershed Mapping and Management Planning project, which aims to increase the community’s capacity for evidence-based integrated forest and watershed management, protection, and conservation for resiliency.

The learning visit is part of the Foundation’s strategic planning process for its 2022-2026 grant program, which will be launched during the third quarter of the year.

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