A boost for financing protected areas in Philippines

Team photo
Team photo

by Angelique Ogena, Information and Communications Assistant, BIOFIN Philippines

Protected area management officers and stakeholders have just completed the first half of the mentoring and coaching program for protected areas (PA) on the BIOFIN methodology where they aim to develop their very own PA finance plans (PAFP) based on their respective PA management plans (PAMP).     

The 10-day wholistic mentoring and coaching program further sharpened the knowledge and skills of the personnel and staff of the PA management offices, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and key partner organizations in the use of the process and tools for formulating the PAFP and associated Protected Area Investment Program (PAIP) for PAs under their respective jurisdiction.  The Program likewise provided a venue for the actual crafting of the baseline and analytical tables and matrices that will comprise the core elements for the preparation of PAFP and PAIP document by the participants, which builds on the initial Training on PAFP Preparation five months ago.

The initial training introduced the PA participants to the process of PAFP development i.e., How to develop: a Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) Framework as the overall log frame; a policy and institutional review which answers the question “What are the drivers, policies, actors, and existing mechanism within your PA that influence biodiversity finance?”; an expenditure review which answers the question “How much is your PA currently spending for biodiversity?”; a finance needs analysis which answers the question “How much is needed to reach their targets in their PAMPs?”, and finally to develop their PAFPs and PAIP to answer the questions: Which finance solutions are optimal for the PA? Why should the public and/or public sector invest in it? And how should these finance solutions be implemented?  

One of the key drawbacks in protected area management is the lack of financial resources to support initiatives for biodiversity conservation.  With this, the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) of the DENR with assistance of the United Nations Development Programme commenced in 2014 the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN). BIOFIN assists the government in crafting aBiodiversity Finance Plan (BFP) aimed at specifying “a sound business case for increased investment in the sustainable and equitable management, protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems”. 

The BFP primarily aims to ensure that all priority actions of the Philippines Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP) are fully implemented by promoting a sufficient funding stream, improving delivery systems and efficiencies, and engendering broad participation across national and local government agencies as well as the private sector by identifying and implementing sound finance solutions. 

Key to meeting the intentions of the BFP is the preparation of a PAFP and accompanying investment programs for PAs. Why focus on the PAs? National parks are home to the most unique and valuable flora and fauna especially in a megadiverse country such as the Philippines. Nature is not only known to be a reliable provider of our daily basic needs, but also an enabler for an economic development towards a more resilient nation. Needless to say, the PAs are the most in need of protection and their managers are key to its sustainable management.

Within this context, the BIOFIN together with the BMB-DENR conducted a 10-day training for the officers and staff of the Protected Area Management Office (PAMO) of the DENR in December 2020.  The training program was designed to provide the PA management officers and their stakeholders the technical knowledge and skills to prepare a Protected Area Finance Plan (PAFP) that will support the implementation of their respective Protected Area Management Plan (PAMP).  As a follow-up to that training and to further enhance the knowledge and skills of the PAMO and concerned DENR staff and other key stakeholders in the preparation of the PAFP, this Mentoring and Coaching Program has been conceptualized and carried out. The initial PAFP preparation was attended by the following PAs which are identified as ASEAN Heritage Parks and/or a representative PA for the upcoming Year of the Protected Areas Campaign: Mount Makiling Forest Reserve or MMFR (Region 4A), Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park or TRNP (Region 4B), Apo Reef Natural Park or ARNP (Region 4B), Bongsanglay Natural Park (Region 5), Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park (Region 7), Samar Island Natural Park (Region 8), Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (Region 11), Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (Region 13), Mt. Apo Natural Park (Regions 11 & 12).  

The BIOFIN and BMB then handpicked the PAs with the most active participation and exhibited motivation to complete all exercises to proceed to the mentoring and coaching program and these were: Region 4B/Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP), Region 4B/Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP), Region 4A/Mount Makiling Forest Reserve (MMFR), Region 10/Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park (MKRNP), and Region 10/Mount Malindang Range Natural Park (MMRNP).

At the end of the training, the participants shared their insights. Grace Barber from TRNP was glad to be able to contribute in the completion of their finance plan and said that “she’s very happy and excited to see the final product” as this will be very useful for the mobilization of resources for their PA. Another PA management officer PASu Krystal Villanada of ARNP felt that “now it’s easier to understand the finance solutions.” She added that it will now be “easier to propose these to our PA management board [for approval].” 

The participants appreciated the mode used for the training sessions which was via an online webinar platform with exercises and homework assigned to participants by the resource speakers as part of the learning outputs. Participants also worked in breakout groups where they were able to discuss the matters together and provide inputs in real time. All BMB and BIOFIN representatives stood as mentors/facilitators during these sessions. Lorilie Salvador of the BMB Wildlife Resources Division also noticed that the training tools such as the templates were very helpful in facilitating the development of the PAFP and PAIP. Another training is scheduled this coming June to capacitate the PAMOs and stakeholders in private sector engagement.

BIOFIN 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 Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP), the country’s roadmap to conserving its biodiversity. The PBSAP implementation will cost PhP24B/year or PhP334B (USD 7.4B low estimate) from 2015-2028.  However, public expenditure was estimated at only P4.9B/year (USD 110M) thus a gap of almost PhP19B (USD 349M) annually was determined.  Several finance solutions to address the gap were identified and are being piloted by BIOFIN at present.