MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Centre for Sustainability Philippines (CS), a grantee of the Forest Foundation Philippines, was named as one of the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations (TAYO) in the 16th TAYO Awards.
CS, a women-led youth environmental organization that works on sustainable community development in Palawan, has successfully worked for the declaration of the Cleopatra’s Needle in Palawan as a Critical Habitat.
The Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat (CNCH) is the country’s biggest critical habitat as it protects more than 100,000 acres of forests in Palawan. It serves as home to about 85 percent of the mammals and birds which can only be found in Palawan, including the Palawan hornbill, Palawan bearcat and Palawan pangolin. The area also serves as the largest watershed in the city, as it provides water to approximately 30 percent of its residents. Lastly, it serves as the ancestral domain of the last remaining 200 members of the diminishing indigenous Batak tribe.
Jessa Belle Garibay, Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder shared, “The TAYO Awards is all about finding, recognizing and rewarding youth organizations that contributed to proving that Filipino youth groups can change lives and contribute to nation-building. It aims to recognize and reward youth organizations all over the country with program and projects that help their communities. As this year’s awardee, we feel very honored and inspired to do the work that we do here in Palawan.”
She furthered, “With the recognition, we aim to seek more partnerships to help propel our Organization’s mission of conserving landscapes in our province. Lastly, as a team of just six members, we take pride that our tireless efforts were highlighted in the awarding ceremony, recognizing that the number of people does not define the magnitude of the impact that can be done. It highlighted our integral role in the declaration of Cleopatra’s Needle as the biggest Critical Habitat in the country.”
As part of its efforts to contribute to the protection of the CNCH, the Foundation awarded a grant to CS to address the diminishing population of Almaciga in the area.
Almaciga is the primary non-timber forest product of the Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat. Its high-value resin, known commercially as Manila Copal, represents approximately 80% of the income of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in the area.
The IPs, like the Batak tribe, have been collecting the resin using indigenous knowledge systems and practices. However, the influx of non-IPs and subsequent resource extraction activities resulted to competition on resource use. Such competition affected the health and productivity of the Almaciga trees, as this resulted to unsustainable resin harvesting brought by over-tapping or incorrect tapping. These illegal activities threatened the existence of Almaciga.
Through the grant, CS was able to conduct research, propagation, reforestation, education and law enforcement initiatives to contribute to the conservation of the Almaciga in the CNCH.
Moving forward, Garibay furthered, “CS is very keen in doing more projects in the CNCH and we look forward to working with Forest Foundation Philippines in helping us achieve our goals for our community stakeholders. With this in mind, we are exploring projects that can further deepen the connection of communities to the Almaciga tree and being able to replicate this to other regions, not only in the CNCH, in the coming years.”
The TAYO Awards is the Philippines’ only award giving body that recognizes and supports the outstanding contributions of youth organizations to the country.
Download our Almaciga Propagation manual here