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The City Government of Puerto Princesa through the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) strengthened its i-Tree project and integrates Behavior Change Communication (BCC) campaign as among its activities under i-Tree: Story Beyond Trees.
Atty. Carlo B. Gomez, City Environment and Natural Resources Officer said that i-Tree is a mainstay project of the City ENRO supported by United States Forest Service (USFS) and United States Agency for International Development -Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (USAID-SURGE).
Since i-Tree was introduced in Puerto Princesa in 2016, the City ENRO has conducted tree assessments in several identified sites such as Plaza Cuartel, City Hall complex, Balayong Park, Acacia Tunnel, two private resorts, schools, and other priority sites.
“i-Tree tool is an aggressive approach in combatting climate change and to save the remaining trees and urban forests of the city”, explained Atty. Gomez.
Recently, the BCC campaign has been integrated as a component of the i-Tree: Beyond Trees as among the office’s strategies to educate the city residents, communities within protected areas and critical habitat, and stakeholders of their roles for the protection and conservation of the environment.
The BCC campaign rolled out last December 2019, by the interim management board and the technical working group of the Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat (CNCH) which City ENRO is one of its members. This activity conducted within CNCH communities was made possible through the City ENRO, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, USAID Protect Wildlife, and Centre for Sustainability.
Part of the campaign is a puppet show entitled “Ginto sa Dagta.” It is a musical that follows the adventures of two children belonging to the Batak community in Cleopatras Needle, locally known as “Puyos. The local community faced a problem on overtapping and over-extraction of Almaciga resin considered as non-timber forest product, and rampant wildlife hunting and trade. They somehow realized the importance of forest protection to preserve their culture and ensure the sustainability of their livelihood.
Another puppet show entitled “Subaraw” is a story of a Tagbanua kid named, Buraw together with her friends, Lusi, a Palawan Hornbill, and Tanding Tandikan, a Palawan Peacock Pheasant. They met Butaw, who is a tour guide, who bring in more tourists to their place in Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP). The forest fires caused by lighted cigarette butts wiped out most of the balite trees within the protected area that serves as bird’s habitat and source of food. The fire also caused the demise of Tanding Tandikan. The story underscores the importance of becoming responsible and environment-conscious tour guides, tourists, and local citizens in visiting premier tourism destinations.
Ginto sa Dagta was performed during the recent BCC caravan in CNCH communities, while Subaraw has been showing since last year during Subaraw Biodiversity Exhibit at the Robinsons, PPUR Management Office at Mendoza Park, and in several schools like Sicsican and San Jose, specifically during the City ENRO’s regular IEC activities.
i-Tree Eco Tools is a collection of urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools, designed and developed by USFS to quantify and value ecosystem services provided by trees including pollution removal, carbon sequestration, avoided carbon emissions, avoided water runoff, and more. It helps planners understand their urban forest resource and the ecosystem services it provides, and use that information to support sustainable urban development and economic growth. Understanding urban forest’s structure, function and value can promote management decisions that will improve human health and environmental quality.
Last year, the i-Tree Team led by Atty. Gomez showcased the technology through i-Tree roadshow to the cities of Iloilo and Tagbilaran, bringing it to these cities and help capacitate its counterpart offices for the application of i-Tree in their respective urban forestry and environmental projects.
Both Puerto Princesa, Iloilo and Tagbilaran along with five other secondary cities in the country are among those assisted by the USAID through SURGE.