SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 August) – The local government units of Dinagat Islands and a coalition of international and local nongovernment organizations signed Thursday in Surigao City a memorandum of agreement on a joint initiative that aims to ensure the conservation of the area’s ecosystems.
Dubbed the Dinagat Communities for Conservation (DINAGAT C4C), the initiative aims “to support Dinagat Island stakeholders in ensuring the declaration and the proper management of key biodiversity areas and local conservation areas through the initiative of empowered communities.”
The project covers five of Dinagat’s seven municipalities, namely Loreto, Tubajon, Libjo, Dinagat, and Cagdianao.
“The province of Dinagat Islands is identified as a group of mega-diverse small islands in the Philippines with an extremely high level of critical terrestrial ecosystems with unique endemism of flora and fauna, of which more than half are found nowhere else in the world. The province is also home to critical watershed areas that not only serve as habitats for rare and endemic plant and animal species – they also supply water that sustains communities across the island,” DINAGAT C4C said.
The NGOs involved in this partnership are the US-based Rainforest Trust, Kaisahan tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan, Balay Alternative Legal Advocates For Development In Mindanaw, Philippine Association for Intercultural Development, and International Land Coalition Asia.
Anthony Marzan, Executive Director of Kaisahan, said the project will work for the declaration of Mounts Kambinliw-Redondo as a Key Biodiversity Area, and critical watershed areas as Local Conservation Areas and Local Community Conserved Areas.
“Aside from the declaration of protected areas, we also seek to conduct biodiversity and watershed assessments, capacity building for duty bearers and communities, and several other activities that will empower Dinagatnons in ensuring development through conservation,” he said.
Marzan added that the project’s implementation started in June 2023 and is scheduled to run until May 2026.
The project marks the realization of the Dinagat Islands Conservation Program (DICP), conceptualized and carried out by the office of former representative Kaka Bag-ao, of the lone district of Dinagat, in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“We founded the DICP together with various stakeholders in 2013 in an effort to respond to the challenges faced by Dinagat Islands and its people. These included food and water security, human health and welfare, disaster risk reduction, and climate change mitigation and adaptation,” said Bag-ao, also a former governor of Dinagat Islands.
Governor Nilo Demerey Jr. of Dinagat Islands signed the MOA with the NGOs a day before the launch due to a prior commitment.
In a recorded message presented during the launch, he stressed the importance of conserving watersheds for the sake of future generations.
Mayor Marc Adelson Longos of Cagdianao, Mayor Simplicio Leyran Jr. of Dinagat, Vice Mayor Zoltan Arnel Edera of Libjo, and Mayor Fely Pedrablanca of Tubajon attended the launch and MOA signing. (Ivy Marie Mangadlao/MindaNews)