In recent years the Negros Forests & Ecological Foundation, Inc. (NFEFI) has undertaken several reforestation initiatives in the 1,000 hectare Bacolod City watershed area located between the boundary of Talisay City and Murcia Municipality, part of the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP) in the Western Visayas, Philippines. One of the current projects is the Mt. Mawa Reforestation Project, near Murcia. It has been running since 2014 and covers 70 hectares of habitat reforestation and 30 hectares for a coffee plantation project. The main activities focus on educating the local community, forest protection, nursery management and plantation care and maintenance.
One major hurdle to overcome in biodiversity conservation in Mt. Mawa and the watershed area is poverty. To combat this we started a programme to provide a sustainable alternative livelihood for the local communities which included:
- a 30-hectare Rattan plantation, a 20-hectare bamboo plantation, carabao (water buffalo) distribution, goat upgrading, the production of organic vegetables and crops
- a cable car that provides alternative transport to farmers where the journey to the markets is difficult
- livelihood credit assistance
- a potable-water system, soil & water conservation technology and agro-forestry
Additional initiatives have been launched in recent years such as the ‘A Tree In Your Name Project’ to also encourage civic organizations, business associations, schools and individuals to help with the foundation’s restoration program in collaboration with the Bacolod City Water District (BACIWA).
In the Mt. Mawa Reforestation Project one of the most critical activities is carried out by our community volunteers. They maintain non-stop patrols and monitor the forest and the watershed area to deter illegal activities such as logging and poaching. Performing forest protection work carries with it a number of challenges and dangers for the members of the patrol group, since most illegal groups are armed. In the past, our patrol groups have been attacked by armed illegal poachers and a few community volunteers have even been shot in their homes.
With the funds we receive we will be able to purchase equipment such as tents, raincoats, flashlights, rucksacks, clothing and footwear, allowing volunteers to carry out multi-day patrols. Just as important, however, are the training sessions educating the community in and around the watershed on sustainable farming practices and techniques as well as conserving the forest and maintaining the endemic animals’ habitat. These sessions require training materials and a projector and screen for presentations as well as a small generator since some of these communities live without electricity. By donating to us we can train and equip volunteers, enabling them to monitor and protect the area, as well as educate the local community and the schools in adjacent communities to ensure the next generation continues the work we have started.