The Protect Wildlife Activity (PWA), a wildlife conservation initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has been shown to have made a significant contribution to reducing threats to wildlife and biodiversity. .
This was observed by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Studies and Research in Agriculture (Searca) assessment team led by the USAID-commissioned PWA Final Performance Assessment.
Covering several biodiversity hotspots in the Philippines, the PWA has been evaluated so that the findings can help inform similar current or future natural resource conservation activities, Searca Director Dr Glenn B. Gregorio said.
He added that the findings may contribute to the growing body of evidence on good practice and to a better understanding of the enabling and hindering factors in biodiversity conservation and anti-wildlife trafficking.
To disseminate the main findings of the assessment and highlight lessons learned from the PWA, Searca’s Emerging Innovation for Growth department hosted a virtual learning event with speakers who provided an overview of the PWA and discussed the overall results. and the summary of the evaluation.
Videos presenting the efforts and contributions of the PWA to different stakeholders in the six sites covered by the assessment were also presented: Pasonanca Natural Park, Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat, Mt. Matutum Protected landscape and protected seascape of Sarangani Bay.
“USAID is a strong partner of the Philippine government in the conservation of countries’ rich biodiversity resources and believes that conservation is an essential element in building prosperous, stable and equitable societies,” said Dr. John Edgar, chief of the USAID’s environmental office.
He explained that project evaluation is important for measuring its effectiveness, relevance and efficiency, and for enabling those who design and implement projects to refine designs and introduce improvements for future efforts. .
Edgar asserted that the findings and results presented at the learning event will be useful to stakeholders and also expressed hope that there will be more opportunities for future collaborations.
Rebecca Paz, Chief of Party of the PWA, presenting a brief history and achievements of the PWA, stressed that “there is a link between the conservation of biodiversity, the flow of ecosystem goods and services and the improvement of the property. -To be human “.
She added: “Preserving biodiversity in protected areas and in coastal and marine areas supports livelihoods and the growth of the local economy. Thus, PWA does not aim to protect the nature of people but to protect nature for people. “
During the open forum, the assessment team and stakeholders discussed the best practices of the PWA, which have greatly contributed to increasing the incomes of beneficiaries and reducing threats to wildlife and biodiversity.
The documentary videos were completed by key local implementing partners who shared their plans after the PWA.
Dr Rey Navacilla, DAI Global Site Manager for Pasonanca Natural Park, said the formulation of the Ayala and Manicahan Watershed Management and Development Plan will help examine the potential of these dams as sources of water for the city of Zamboanga, which will help to improve the sustainability of the water resources of the natural park.
Elizabeth Maclang, Protected Area Supervisor (PASu) of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, said they would prioritize the use of camera traps that help authorities monitor activities inside. the protected area as well as the continuation of payment for ecosystem services.
For the protected landscape of Mount Mantalingahan, forester Efren Hibaler, PASu, explained that they are focusing on creating a GIS team for DENR to facilitate the zoning system in the protected area. They will use land use planning and other technologies, which they acquired through the PWA.
Joy Ologuin, PASu for Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape, stressed that they will continue the efforts of the PWA, especially the strengthening of authorities, with the enforcement protocol developed and the institutionalization of payment for ecosystem services.
USAID Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist Dr Albert P. Aquino said, “Protecting our wildlife doesn’t end there with our collective efforts and the stories we tell. After all, these collective efforts to protect wildlife are an ongoing story and continue to evolve, so please do our part.
Gregorio thanked USAID for its partnership with Searca and expressed hope for more opportunities to work together. He asserted that Searca strongly supports USAID not only to protect biodiversity in the Philippines, but also in the rest of Southeast Asia and beyond.