Victoria-Anepahan Mountain Range (VAMR) REDD+ Engagement
The Victoria-Anepahan Mountain Range (VAMR) in Palawan boasts of unparalleled biodiversity, an astonishing array of unique species, and a widely intact ecosystem. VAMR lies between two high-value conservation areas, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape. Unfortunately, VAMR does not enjoy the same level of protection afforded to those neighboring sites.
With a total land area of 164,789 hectares straddling 31 barangays in Puerto Princesa City, Aborlan, Narra, and Quezon, VAMR has a highly significant level of biodiversity and has a 41.18 percent endemism in terms of flora and fauna, where about 31 percent of the species are of high conservation significance globally. However, due to the absence of any proactive management framework at the landscape level, it is continually threatened with conservation issues such as illegal logging and wildlife poaching.
The protection of VAMR’s biodiversity, therefore, will ensure that opportunities for the socio-economic improvement of the upland and lowland communities, such as indigenous peoples, farmers, and irrigators, are also protected.
Equally important, VAMR is also one of the demonstration sites of REDD+ – a set of steps designed to use market/financial incentives to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases from deforestation and forest degradation. Apart from greenhouse gas reduction, it can deliver “co-benefits” such as biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation.”
With CCIPH at the helm, the primary objective of this eight-month-long project is to socially prepare the VAMR communities for a certifiable and verifiable REDD+ program that will contribute to the nationally identified and determined contributions on emissions reduction by maintaining intact forest ecosystems. Specifically, these would entail:
- Preparing the VAMR communities for a results-based REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks, and sustainable management of forests)
- Forecasting estimated forest carbon credits using proxy data that are eligible for certification, verification, and validation.
- Designing the REDD+ project including the identification of risks, assumptions and costs associated.
Engaging the communities and preparing them for REDD+ is regarded as a critical component in contributing to the nationally identified and determined Green House Gases (GHG) contributions by maintaining intact forest ecosystems including their genetic and species diversity in VAMR and all the barangays and municipalities within it.
The first segment of VAMR’s Phase 1 will be based on a combination of spatial analysis of land cover change, a review of recent reporting and grey literature, as well as firsthand anecdotal evidence and field assessments conducted with a stratified team composed of members from CSOs, NGOs, local community groups and Indigenous Peoples.
With interests coming from the private companies determined on being carbon neutral, this project can prepare the carbon units of VAMR which may be sold to selected companies to offset their emissions. Companies can then complement the project by financially supporting the next phases which include baselines and certification (Phase 2) and monitoring (Phase 3). This proposed project will have two streams of inputs to the sustainability mechanism of VAMR.
As this project progresses, an indirect input to the sustainability of VAMR is the development of information for the conservation and preservation of Ancestral domains. Critical information such as the drivers and the rate of forest and biodiversity loss shall be documented in this phase, leading towards the tribal communities’ and LGU’s action to curtail forest and biodiversity loss. This will also provide the opportunity to see other sustainable financing mechanisms that will conserve the forests and biodiversity of VAMR.