Forest and climate protection in Panay

Project description       

Title: Forest and climate protection project in Panay 
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Country: Philippines
Lead executing agency: Department of Environment and Natural Resources 
Overall term: 2014 to 2018 

Philippines. Farmers in the Panay mountains take care of seedlings for reforestation. © GIZ


The natural forest on the mountains of the Philippine island of Panay is the most important carbon sink in the region. It also guarantees the flow of water into most of the rivers in Panay, and it provides a refuge for endangered species, such as the Dulungan hornbill and Rafflesia plants, which are only found on this island and are threatened with extinction.

Conservation of this forest and its biodiversity is therefore vitally important. At the same time, it is under huge pressure from exploitation. Slash-and-burn practices, unregulated logging and poaching pose a threat to the entire ecosystem. Inappropriate forms of agriculture on the steeper slopes and unused biomass contribute to avoidable greenhouse gas emissions with an adverse effect on the climate. Deforestation of the mountain range is causing erosion and fluctuating water levels. It also jeopardises rice irrigation and the drinking water supply in low-lying areas.


The globally important biodiversity of the last remaining large area of contiguous natural forest in the Panay Mountain Range is protected. Local communities use the natural resources in the buffer zones in a sustainable and climate-friendly manner.


The project draws on lessons learned from earlier interventions in order to intensify nature conservation activities, including the protection of critical habitats, forest land use planning, reforestation, sustainable forest management, and the pursuit of agroforestry in the buffer zones. With the participation of local people, forest land use plans are developed, which are, in turn, incorporated into overarching land use plans. This process respects the rights and interests of indigenous groups, while at the same time designating critical habitats for endangered species.

The project supports local authorities, user groups and households in applying land rights instruments. It assists them in establishing community forests and in devising management plans for areas of forest designated for conservation and commercial activities. Agroforestry areas are also expanding as the project supports agreements on financing, conservation and rehabilitation. It is also involved in carrying out reforestation activities in the buffer zones.

Meanwhile, the project is developing the use of biomass as a renewable energy resource, utilising agricultural waste. This should generate incomes for local communities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging environmental, economic and social sustainability.

To further enhance the protection of forests, climate and biodiversity, the project facilitates the dissemination of relevant knowledge and information, and it promotes exchanges of information on these topics among different stakeholders at local, national and regional levels, as well as internationally.

At the national level, the project supports the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in meeting its commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in particular the CBD’s Strategic Plan 2011-2020. This includes support for effective decentralised conservation measures in the context of the Aichi Target 11 of the CBD.

To ensure their results are mutually reinforcing, the project works closely with GIZ’s REDD+ project in the Philippines. Both projects have agreed on a joint approach based on the same methods, standards and criteria. The consulting firm DFS Deutsche Forstservice GmbH is also involved in the activities.


From 2010 to 2014, an innovative basis for the conservation of the Panay Mountain Range was developed. So far, 13 forest land use plans have been completed. 20 partner communities have established special environment offices, and 12 have employed local forest guards. Five communities have already designated special habitat protection areas covering more than 15,000 ha, and integrated these in their land use plans.

Based on these improvements in forest conservation, the project has contributed to a reduction of 16,800 tonnes per year in CO2 emissions from deforestation. A further 11,650 tonnes of CO2 are sequestered each year thanks to the reforestation activities.


So far, partner communities and local households have established a total of 1,060 hectares of species-rich, mixed forest and 890 hectares of agroforestry areas in the buffer zones. A forest resource assessment and carbon baseline study has been conducted. As part of a development partnership with the private sector, the project cooperates with companies in the coffee, cocoa and abaca sector. An analysis has been conducted on the potential for substituting biofuel for fossil fuels in one of the project provinces.