Tokyo, Japan – Today Conservation International (CI) announced that nearly 3,000 hectares (over 7,000 acres) of the joint forestry project between Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and CI in the Philippines’ Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape (PPLS) have been certified in the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) Standard’s Gold Level – the highest level achievable. The Philippine PPLS Project was validated against the CCB Standards by the Rainforest Alliance and marks a significant milestone for CI and Toyota’s partnership. The project partners – TMC, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Local Government Unit of Peñablanca, and CI – are now working on plans to extend their work together in the PPLS for another three years.
“CI and Toyota are implementing this project in strong partnership with both national and local governments in the Philippines, focused on the sustaining the project after funding ends,” said Yasushi Hibi, Vice President for Asia Policy at CI. “We hope this project demonstrates how the project can be designed and implemented for multiple benefits, and serve as a model for sustainable forestry projects in the long run.”
The project was launched in September 2007 and involves restoring, and agroforesting in the area encompassing about 2,943 hectares, with active intervention to 2,500, hectares of the PPLS which is located in the Northeastern part of one of the Philippines’s main islands. The project is designed to help enhance the link between the PPLS and the adjacent Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park. Combined, the PPLS and Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park represent a seamless block of protected forest larger than Switzerland. In addition to protecting and restoring the forests, local communities have and will continue to receive additional benefits from agroforestry, such as income from mango sales. The skills gained from the project’s training program by members of the community will add to local capacity for addressing sustainability initiatives in the future.
“We congratulate Toyota and Conservation International for achieving Gold Level Validation under the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards,” said Dr. Joanna Durbin, Director of the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance. “Meeting the criteria of the CCB Standards ensures that this forestry project in the Philippines’ Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape will not only restore and protect the forests but also reduce greenhouse gases, preserve biodiversity and improve the livelihoods of local people.”
Additionally, the area the project encompasses has also been identified by CI and local partners as a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA), a site with globally significant levels of biodiversity and thus a priority for conservation action. This KBA site is home to a diversity of unique species, found only in the Philippines. A number of these same species are also threatened including vertebrates like the country’s national bird, the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), Crown Flying fox (Acerodon jubatus) and Gray’s Minitor Lizard (Varanus olivaceus).
“The Philippine Peñablanca Sustainable Reforestation Project is an excellent example demonstrating that uplifting the economic well-being of forest-dependent communities need not be at the expense of losing further our remaining natural forests that nurture unique biodiversity and provide ecosystem services that ensure people clean air, water, food, and other essentials of life,” said Romeo Trono, the Executive Director of the CI’s Philippine Program. “This is a clear demonstration of people, forest and biodiversity harmonious co-existence.”
From the onset of the partnership, one of the goals of the project was to achieve certification with the CCB Standards, a standard that evaluates forest-based carbon mitigation projects to foster land management activities that simultaneously mitigate climate change, support sustainable development and conserve biodiversity.
“The project has done so much for the protected area, for the people and the environment as a whole,” said Jovito Layugan, Jr., Regional Technical Director of the Department of Natural Resources, one of the project partners. “It has gone through a rigid process, but we learned a lot. We are blessed to be one of the pioneers in the country to have a forestry project that has resulted in CCB Standards certification.”
Third-party auditing was conducted by the Rainforest Alliance, who assessed whether the project met the 14 criteria required for validation against the CCB Standards, including creating a project design and goals, as well as intended positive impacts on the climate, local community and biodiversity. In addition to meeting the criteria, the audit determined that the project provided “exceptional biodiversity benefits,” for which the project was awarded the standard’s coveted Gold Level.
“The project will be restoring degraded lands while conserving existing forests – and doing it together with local communities in Peñablanca, Philippines,” said Jeff Hayward, Climate Initiative Manager of the Rainforest Alliance. “At the grassroots level, it will use appropriate agroforestry and land enhancement techniques to encourage forest conservation in an area of high biodiversity importance. Successful CCBA validation provides transparent assurance that this initiative meets international standards.”
Now that the CCB Standards have been met, the next stage of the CI-Toyota partnership will build on the work of the first phase of the partnership by increasing capacity and capitalizing on the inroads made over the past three years.
Conservation International (CI)
Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature for the well-being of humanity. With headquarters in the greater Washington, D.C. area, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.
The Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) is a Conservation International convened partnership between international NGOs seeking to foster the development of forest protection and restoration activities around the world that deliver significant climate, local community and biodiversity benefits. CCBA members include Conservation International, CARE, Rainforest Alliance, The Nature Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society. Visit our website and download the standards at www.climate-standards.org.