By Rudy A. Fernandez
The Philippine Star
April 03, 2011
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna , Philippines — Four international agencies have joined hand to undertake a study on the biodiversity of Mt. Malindang in Misamis Occidental.
Started last February, the two-year research and development (R&D) project is titled “Ridge to Reef: An Ecosystem-based Approach to Biodiversity Conservation and Development in the Philippines.
It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Los Baños-based, Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization-Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEAMEO SEARCA), Malaysia-based WorldFish Center (WFC), and Kenya-based World Agroforestry Center (WAC).
The project addresses key issues affecting Mt. Malindang and its environs, which are regarded as among the country’s “biodiversity hotspots” and a priority national protected area.
Also tagged as “extremely high priority” under the National Biodiversity Study Action Plan (NBSAP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the mountain is traversed by two rivers (Jangaran and Layawan) that connect its watersheds to the coastal systems.
Langaran River supplies irrigation water to adjacent farmlands but is threatened owing to prevalent quarrying and illegal fishing. In contrast, Layawan River is regarded as the “cleanest and greenest river” both at the national and regional levels.
“The unique features and status of Mt. Malindang make it a strategic site for piloting and modifying biodiversity measures,” SEARCA said.
SEARCA, headed by Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr., is one of the 20 “centers of excellence” of SEAMEO, an intergovernment treaty organization founded in 1965 to foster cooperation among Southeast Asian nations in the fields of education, science, and culture.
The center had earlier been involved in the “Biodiversity for Research Program Focus on Mt. Malindang” done in 2001-2005 with funding support from the Netherlands government and in partnership with various institutions in the area.
The “Ridge to Reef” project has eight components, including watersheds, effects of agriculture and forestry on coastal aquatic ecosystem, management of critical coastal habitats, capture fisheries, alternative livelihoods for coastal people, resource use and mapping, and capacity building in biodiversity.
“Mt. Malindang is viewed to serve as a model site of a complex environment integrated in one framework for a more sustainable biodiversity conservation,” SEARCA said.