Barangay Melville Punong Barangay Habiron P. Bacar (left) and Barangay Poblacion 4 Punong Barangay Ruston Q. Noe (right) with Project Consultant Marivel Dygico (center) during the launch of Balabac Ecosystem Restoration Project held on Balabac Island, Palawan last August 24, 2022. ( Photo from WWF - Philippines)

In an effort to restore the mangrove ecosystem in the island town of Balabac, the local government and some private institutions have partnered with WWF-Philippines and the European Union (EU) to empower local communities to take action on climate change and resiliency challenges through the Balabac Ecosystem Restoration Project.

This project seeks to improve the local community’s capacity to take care of the mangroves as well as address their environmental concerns, such as solid waste management.

WWF has been at the forefront of protection and conservation via local management of coastal marine resources through the EU-funded Ocean Governance Project, which covers two geographical regions – the Sulu Sulawesi Seascape shared by Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, as well as the Atlantic Basin.

“Healthy mangrove habitats can act as buffers against extreme weather events and enhance the climate resilience of coastal communities in the Philippines. To do this effectively, we must strengthen the leadership and capacity of those communities who are most at risk of climate change. Working on the transition to a greener society and climate change adaptation is a global priority for the European Union and is at the center of our cooperation efforts with the Philippines,” said H.E. Luc Véron, European Union Ambassador to the Philippines.

Part of this is a partnership with Epson Southeast Asia to establish a ‘Community Learning and Innovation Hub’ that aims to bridge knowledge gaps and strengthen experience in resource management, building local capacity with “learning by doing” and with knowledge exchanges not just in Balabac, but also in the neighboring town of Bataraza.

“Corporations have a shared responsibility in sustainable development. Working alongside governments, local champions, and conservation organizations, we are proud to be part of this public-private partnership that is aligned with our renewed Epson 25 Corporate Vision—which aims to enrich communities and help realize a sustainable society,” said Eduardo Bonoan, Epson Philippines’ General Manager for Marketing Division.

The government of Balabac is happy about this project because it is a step toward sustainability for both the environment and the people who live there.

“It is important that we continue to protect and manage Balabac’s valued mangrove forests to boost our efforts in keeping a healthy environment and supporting local livelihoods. Mangroves regenerate naturally, but human activities like tan barking have degraded this ecosystem. Today, people plant mangroves for their benefit in the coming years,” said Mayor Shuiab J. Astami of Balabac.

This project will be pilot tested in Barangays Melville and Poblacion 4 in Balabac before being rolled out in other communities in the province in the future.

“We are excited to be part of this multi-stakeholder effort that will restore critical mangroves in Balabac, Palawan and improve the way their coastal resources are managed for the long haul. We strongly hope that this project will succeed and serve as an example for many other communities,” said Executive Director of WWF-Philippines, Katherine Custodio.


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