2020 Annual Report

For the penultimate year of the Results Framework, the Foundation faced several challenges as the pandemic put the world at a standstill. Contrary to reports, nature is not “taking a break.” Forests continued to suffer from fires and poaching, even in the Foundation’s focal landscapes. Despite the challenges, forest conservation work continued.

Beyond the effects on the Foundation’s grant program and operations, the bigger impact of the pandemic is the decline in forest conservation gains.

  • Travel restrictions limited the forest guards’ forest protection efforts and impacted community-based ecotourism in Palawan, Samar, and Sierra Madre.
  • Production, consumption, and  value chains of services and products derived from the forests were disrupted, affecting community-based enterprises (CBEs). 
  • The loss of livelihood pushed people to resort to illegal activities.

In addition to the pandemic, at least eight typhoons hit the Philippines in the fourth quarter of 2020. These climate-related incidents that caused massive landslides and flooding brought devastation in the focal landscapes of Samar and Leyte, and Sierra Madre.

Despite the negative impacts, the pandemic and climate-related disasters gave the Foundation an opportunity to examine its resiliency and self-reliance. The forward-looking Results Framework for 2017-2021 enabled the Foundation to adapt to the situation, thanks to its consideration of various issues surrounding forest conservation.

Grant Program: Project Highlights

The Foundation released institutional guidelines to its stakeholders in response to the pandemic. The guidelines ensure that the Foundation is: Looking after the safety and well-being of its team, partners, and communities, continuing its work to protect and conserve the forests, with minimal disruption, and Complying with national health protocols on COVID-19.

To follow through these guidelines, the following actions were taken:

  • Online submission and evaluation process of the grant proposals allowed the Foundation to continue its grantmaking program. 
  • The Foundation released the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Plan to provide adaptive management strategies to ensure delivery of results, while combating the impacts of the pandemic.
  • Ongoing projects with low level of impacts continued, but with adjustments in timeframes and budgets, and working arrangements that ensured the project teams’ safety.
  • Some projects’ implementation strategies were revised to ensure accomplishment of the objectives within the approved timeframe and funding.

Growing Forests

Sustained Mangrove Conservation and Protection in Palawan

C3 Philippines, grantee, sustained the mobilization of partner communities in Busuanga, Palawan, to protect and rehabilitate around 1,500 hectares of coastal forests. 

Virtual Learning on Forest Mapping

Environmental Science for Social Change, grantee, enabled the continuation of forest management in the provinces of Isabela and Bukidnon by using online platforms to conduct training, consultations, and validation of forest maps with stakeholders, and launching updated land cover maps through their online portal to help local stakeholders identify remaining forest blocks and make informed decisions on natural resources management.

Growing Livelihoods

Enabling Business Continuity for Community-based Enterprises

Bayan Academy, grantee, helped enterprises thrive amidst the pandemic by:

  • Helping conduct business continuity planning for five community groups in Samar and Palawan
  • Developing online shops for community products to continue income generation
  • Helping ecotourism-based community enterprises shift to agroforestry and high-value crops production

Growing Partnerships

Transforming Sustainable and Inclusive Landscape Governance 

The Sustainable and Inclusive Landscape Governance (SILG) project with Tropenbos International facilitated the following online dialogues amid the pandemic: interlandscape dialogue on continuing conservation and governance work during the pandemic, nine landscape dialogues on sustaining land and water governance strategies, and a national dialogue culminating the three-year project dialogues by allowing partners to explore local development planning as a sustainability mechanism.

Supporting USAID’s Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes Project

In 2020, the USAID launched the five-year Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) Project. In partnership with RTI International, SIBOL works with the Philippine government to introduce and scale up high-impact environmental interventions that support the sustainable management and governance of key natural resources, and reduce environmental crimes and unsustainable practices. 

As one of RTI International’s implementing partners, the Foundation will contribute to the project through:

  • Innovative grants to fund strategic, targeted, and sustainable activities toward the project’s objectives and complement its technical strategy
  • Facilitating stakeholder dialogues, monitoring, and performance assessments to support the development of communications and knowledge management tools, and ensure the sustainability of conservation actions

Growing Advocates

Pushing Storytelling Boundaries through Digital Tools

The Foundation transitioned previously-approved projects to digital, namely:

  • Online screening of the Philippine Eagle Foundation’s Bird of Prey documentary, along with the launching of a virtual field trip called Learning with Malaya and an animated storybook called An Eagle’s Feather
  • Monthly webinars on forest conservation with Green Convergence Philippines 
  • Online screening of Higanteng Haligi sa Hilaga, a theatrical film highlighting the importance of forest conservation with Palanca awardee and grantee Eljay Deldoc

Continuing Conservation Conversations

The Foundation supported the development and production of advocacy materials for various stakeholders to reexamine their relationship with the forests amid the pandemic:

  • Where to Next? produced the Life Stories: Cards for Conversations deck and the Places that Move Us journal to feature the conservation stories of the Foundation’s partners and grantees, and inspire people to start their own conservation journeys. Part of the proceeds from the materials’ sales will support the reforestation projects of the Non-Timber Forest Products –  Exchange Program Philippines, the Foundation’s grantee working in Bukidnon. 
  • Cynthia Bauzon-Arre produced face masks featuring native species, a native tree postcard set called #ForestFruitsPH, and a forest art and reflection journal called #ForestReflectionsPH. 
  • The Ateneo Wild published illustrated urban biodiversity flashcards for school children and homeschoolers.

Preparing Communities for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+)

In 2019, the Foundation supported the Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives (IDEAS) in the formulation of a Conservation Framework for Victoria Anepahan Mountain Range (VAMR), one of the four Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in Palawan. 

In 2020, the Foundation supported a REDD+ readiness project with the Center for Conservation Innovations Philippines to prepare the VAMR communities for a certifiable and verifiable REDD+ program. The VAMR communities will be supported in formulating results-based and sustainable conservation activities, and enhancing forest carbon stocks. 

Expanding Forest Management to Increase Community Resilience

The Foundation expanded its project with the Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid in early 2020 to ensure that activities are continuously being promoted and replicated throughout the Calamianes Resiliency Network amid the pandemic.

Developing Local Biodiversity Champions among Local Leaders

The Foundation awarded a grant to Haribon Foundation to enhance the capacity of local leaders in natural resource management. The Foundation set up a mechanism for local leaders to access comprehensive biodiversity conservation and natural resource management courses.

Advancing Forest Conservation through Research, Arts, and Community Work

The Forest Foundation launched the Dr. Perry S. Ong Fellowship Program to recognize and support individuals who promote, advance, and enhance the protection and conservation of forests and its biodiversity through research, community work, advocacy, arts, and teaching. The program recognizes and honors the life work of late conservationist Dr. Perry S. Ong, who served as one of Forest Foundation’s founding trustees.

Administration of the Fund

In 2020, the Board of Trustees met three times and approved 33 new grants. The board also had new developments in the past year.

  • The terms of Board Trustees Dr. Antonio G.M. La Viña and Dr. Donna Reyes ended. 
  • Ms. Elisea Gozun resigned from the Board to pursue other commitments. 
  • Three new representatives from the non-governmental sector were elected to join the board: Mr. Dennis Salvador, Ms. Edwina Dominguez-Garchitorena, and Ms. Aurora Francisco-Tolentino.


No. of proposals received


No. of proposals approved

US$ 1,157,993

Total approved funding for grants

US$ 2,161,565

Total disbursed funding for grants

US$ 599,017

Total counterpart match


Total matching funds as % of approved grants

US$ 435,499

Amount spent on indirect costs

US$ 866,201

Interest & capital gained on

US$ 22,399,711

Fund balance at the end of the year