The Palawan Conservation Corps (PCC) is transforming young lives on the island of Palawan in the Philippines biodiversity hotspot and protecting hardwood trees in the process.
PCC received support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for establishing an educational nature park to build local capacity for restoring wild habitats.
It completed the project in August, developing an educational nature park on 3 hectares of land donated by the Government of Puerto Princesa—four months earlier than planned and with impressive results.
During the course of the project, out-of-school youths completed construction of an open-air Information Center while receiving training in carpentry and masonry skills.
The 5-week training, capped with two examinations, resulted in each participant receiving a certificate in carpentry. Through additional funding from the Consuelo Foundation, each participant also received a set of carpentry tools.
A trail around the park is now complete, and signs and information boards have also been installed along the trail leading to the Information Center where billboards and posters feature the Philippines' diverse ecosystems.
The Center will provide a venue for work camps and youth exchanges, and act as a showcase to encourage other communities to replicate the Corps' project.
The youths also took part in restoration projects in the rural villages of Puerto Princesa City as part of a residential program for out-of-school youths that PCC operates. As part of this, a group of youths and EarthCorps volunteers spent three days helping the indigenous people of Bgy. Simpucan manage their watershed area through soil erosion control techniques.
Working with local youths and other groups, PCC also completed an extension to a new hardwood nursery. The nursery now measures some 10,000 square feet and houses hardwood seedlings of Narra, Kamagong, Apitong, Molave, Amugis, Mahogany and Kalamantian.
The restoration and reforestation project directly benefits the communities where erosion and flooding affect their livelihoods and food security.
"When the community has capacity to prevent environmental destruction, they have direct control over their resources and can manage it well," explained Sheila Chan, PCC executive director.
Meanwhile wildlife benefits from the replanting of some 5,000 native trees and shrubs, including endemic hardwoods.
Palawan's biodiversity is recognized worldwide. It supports 11 amphibians found only in the Philippines and eight others found only in Palawan. Palawan, Sierra Madre and Eastern Mindano—the focal areas for CEPF investments in the Philippines—are also home to the nation's largest tracts of remaining forests and present some of the most promising opportunities for reconnecting forest and habitat fragments.