San Jose, Occidental Mindoro – The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of Occidental Mindoro awarded a plaque of appreciation to DENR-UNDP BIOFIN’s Together for Tamaraws Crowdfunding Campaign for having raised a total of Php 1.6 million for the Tamaraw wardens and rangers of Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park (MIBNP). The financial support raised covered six months’ worth of field allowance and patrol assistance for 59 wardens and rangers of the MIBNP protected area management office (PAMO) and the Tamaraw Conservation Program (TCP).
MIBNP Protected Area Superintendent Diosdado Torrado accounted that the “campaign ensures that our rangers will be better equipped in conducting their day-to-day activities” and it “shows that no matter where we are, we can take part in the activities towards the conservation of the species.“ The tamaraw frontliners who were the campaign beneficiaries were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as several of them have incurred huge income losses due to the halt in tourism and closure of national parks nationwide. Despite all the challenges, the rangers and wardens continued to patrol and deter tamaraw poachers and hunters inside the national park.
“Tamaraws are living treasures not only of our province nor of our country, but of the whole world,” said OIC Chief Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Ernesto Tañada. He added that the “collective efforts of the government, organizations and communities are what we need to propel species like that of our Tamaraws from the brink of extinction and to ensure that they survive in their natural habitat from one generation to another.”
Among other supplies, the rangers and the wardens also received patrol gear and equipment. The distribution of proceeds was done in five batches, which began in the fourth quarter of 2020 and concluded in February 2022.
TCP Coordinator Neil del Mundo described that "the crowdfunding initiative of BIOFIN UNDP celebrated the bayanihan spirit of the Filipinos amidst the pandemic.” He emphasized that “not only that the donations secured the livelihood of rangers and wardens, it also ensured continued protection of tamaraws and Biodiversity in MIBNP."
After the turnover, a scheduled joint programme monitoring took place, led by UNDP Philippines’ Climate Action Team Programme Analyst Maria Theresa Yap. The monitoring visit was conducted to ensure that all proceeds from the campaign were distributed to the beneficiaries through the Mindoro Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. (MBCFI), BIOFIN’s campaign partner.
The joint programme monitoring visit provided an avenue to discuss the progress of disbursement and the challenges, constraints, and risks encountered for the duration of the initiative. This activity was attended by BIOFIN Project Manager Anabelle Plantilla, MBCFI Executive Director Grace Diamante, TCP Coordinator and MIBNP Assistant Superintendent Neil Del Mundo, and Wildlife Resources Division Chief Atty. Teresa Tenazas. Representatives of the UNDP Digital Services and Finance Units and offices of the TCP, MIBNP, and BIOFIN were also present.
Aside from the six-month field allowance and patrol assistance for the wardens and rangers, the campaign provided biodiversity monitoring devices, butane stoves, cooking sets, first aid kits with medical supplies, tents, portable solar lamps, patrol uniforms and gears, and camera traps.
UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran highlighted the importance of the crowdfunding campaign against the backdrop of the pandemic. He noted that “our current situation poses challenges on achieving Sustainable Development Goals. Most impacted by pandemic crisis are the livelihoods of vulnerable, rural and at-risk communities within areas with rich biodiversity. We all know that this crisis has deepened poverty and vulnerability of the communities involved in conservation work. More than the resources that were generated from this crowdfunding campaign, the initiative was able to catalyze social action that will impact the important biodiversity species and most especially the communities which serve as on-site steward.”
The Together for Tamaraws Crowdfunding Campaign was launched in July 2020 as part of BIOFIN’s efforts to mobilize resources for conservation communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the original aim of raising Php 1.15 million, the campaign was able to exceed by over a third of its total target in a period of six months. “The power of the crowd came to the rescue of our tamaraw frontliners by responding to our call for help,” said Anabelle Plantilla, BIOFIN Philippines Project Manager. Aside from the 200 individual donors, the campaign’s success was made possible by the harmonization of efforts from individuals to organizations who believed in the cause of the campaign and in the conservation and protection of the critically endangered tamaraws found nowhere else in the world. “We would like to thank all the donors, local and foreign, who made sure that the rangers and wardens continued to protect the tamaraws,” Plantilla added. Tamaraws are endemic to the island of Mindoro and are critically endangered species whose population are at about 600, 480 of which can be found in MIBNP.
To further assist the MIBNP in achieving its targets under the PA management plan and ensure sustainability of efforts for tamaraw conservation, BIOFIN is working with the PA management office together with the D’ Aboville Foundation and the TCP in implementing specific activities under the said plan. These activities will complement and support TCP’s implementation of the Tamaraw Conservation and Management Action Plan.
Present in 40 countries, BIOFIN is a global initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that contributes to closing the financing gap for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity by identifying, accessing, combining and sequencing sources of biodiversity funding to finance the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans. The Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan or PBSAP, the country’s roadmap to conserving its biodiversity, costs PhP24B/year or PhP334B for its implementation from 2015 to 2028. However, public expenditure was estimated at only P4.9B/year thus a gap of almost PhP19B annually was determined. Several finance solutions to address the gap have been identified and are being piloted by BIOFIN in the Philippines at present.