Since 2016, the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) has been implementing an urban forestry program to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change.

With the help of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Strengthening Urban Resilience through Growth with Equity (SURGE) program and the iTree tools, the City ENRO was able to evaluate the ecosystem benefits of Puerto Princesa’s remaining urban forest, such as carbon sequestration and reduced surface runoff, and save its remaining tree species.

The success of this project was the highlight of a two-day learning tour by 24 delegates from the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) who toured USAID initiatives in Puerto Princesa on March 14-15.

“Many of the communities we have been visiting have made profound changes in how they provide services to the communities,” ICMA president Jeffrey Towery told Palawan News.

Towery emphasized that rapid development and urbanization are global challenges for cities, complimenting Puerto Princesa for being able to maintain its remnant urban forest.

He underscored this project as a community driven step towards disaster resiliency.

“There has been a lot of work on disaster resiliency and recovery. A lot of communities are doing a better job of engaging the community in the decision making process and adding good governance back to their community,” he said.

Aside from the iTree program, the learning tour also included a visit to the Puerto Princesa City Water Reclamation Learning Center, Inc. (PPCWRLCI) at the bay and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Brgy. Cabayugan.

“We learn from our colleagues how they were able to deal with disasters, floods, earthquakes, typhoons. These are all useful to us as we go back to our communities as well,” he said. (with reports from Gerald Ticke)