PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines – The European Union is pleased that EU-funded projects for forest protection here is “well-spent.”
EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux said the EU is encouraged by the substantial decrease in annual deforestation rate in the province from 19,000 hectares to 5,500 hectares years after the implementation of their two major programs.
In a meeting with provincial officials led by Governor Abraham Mitra, Ledoux said he is “very pleased that European taxpayers’ money has been well-used by the province,” noting that “European citizens are very concerned about funds.”
The EU currently finances three grant projects in the province in the field of sustainable development. Aside from the Zero Carbon Resort, EU-funded projects include .3 million euros (P20 million) contribution to the South Palawan Planning Council’s protection activities in Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape and a grant of .4 million euros (P25 million) to the Non Timber Forest Products Network to implement a REDD pilot project (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in the municipalities of Narra and Quezon.
EU’s support to the province goes back to the mid-90s when the Palawan Tropical Forest Protection Programme (PTFPP), a 10 year program with EU funding of 17 million euros and the National Integrated Protected Programme (NIPAP), a nationwide initiative to create and manage eight protected areas in the Philippines with 11 million euros (P700 million) contributions from the EU were designed.
“The EU has been a long time partner of the province and it’s natural for us to be here today to celebrate the last of a long list of initiatives to protect and restore forests in this unique part of the Philippines,” Ledoux said at the launching of the Palawan Trees for the Restoration of Ecology, Economy and Society (PalTREES) on Friday. “These two programs combined have contributed to some of Palawan’s most recognized success stories.”
The forest cover of Palawan has decreased from 738,886 hectares (52 percent) in 1992 to 666,338 hectares (46 percent) in 2005. This is equivalent to some 72,500 hectares of forest loss (1992-2005) representing an average annual deforestation rate of around 5,500 hectares. This figure is a substantial decrease in forest denudation from the report of the EU-funded Integrated Environmental Program (IEP, 1985) which registered an alarming decline of 19,000 hectares per year from 1979 to 1984.