Protection of biodiversity is not only a part of our overall commitment to environmental stewardship, but also ensures the health of our geothermal reservoir. The geothermal reservations and project sites of EDC are important habitats of wildlife. EDC implements its Biodiversity Conservation & Monitoring Program (BMCP) with its in-house team of wildlife biologists and foresters and in partnership with expert groups such as the University of the Philippines Institute of Biology (UP-IB), Silliman University in Negros Oriental, and Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PBCFI) in Negros Occidental. Through the BCMP, EDC documented at least 514 total unique species of fauna, composed of 344 species of birds, 39 species of bats, 25 small to medium-sized mammals, 51 species of amphibians, and 55 species of reptiles within its project sites. More than half of these wildlife are endemic. In most project sites, forests within the EDC-managed watersheds represent the last remaining blocks of contiguous forests. EDC’s forest protection initiatives and strong partnerships with the DENR, local government units, and other stakeholders help conserve these forest habitats.
On March 21, 2021, EDC and UP-IB signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the third phase of BCMP. Since the first phase of the BCMP which commenced in 2008, the partnership between UP-IB and EDC generated a vast knowledge on the rich biodiversity in each geothermal facility. The biodiversity metrics component of BCMP III will use this 10-year baseline information to develop standards for the assessment and monitoring of the health and integrity of the forests and streams within EDC’s geothermal facilities. The biodiversity metrics serve as an assessment and monitoring tool utilizing faunal and floral communities as bioindicators in both freshwater and terrestrial forest ecosystems. Using a scoring system based on identified effective indicators, sites will have a calculated index score which measures the ecosystem’s health. With EDC’s sites serving as the natural laboratory to test out this new system, the goal is its widespread adoption as the standard ecosystem health assessment and monitoring system in the Philippines. BCMP III also aims to publish a book on flora biodiversity called Botanical Treasures, which will showcase the different groups of native and endemic flora of the Philippines, while highlighting those found within EDC’s geothermal reservations. This book is envisioned to be the flora counterpart to the Wildlife Treasures Book that was jointly published by UPIB and EDC in 2019. Lastly, the BCMP III aims to develop the UPIB-EDC Biodiversity Hub experience by featuring an enhanced Vertebrate Museum and Herbarium and a virtual tour of these two facilities and the BINHI Arboretum in UPIB.
Field activities for the implementation of the BCMP III were targeted in 2021. However, given the continuing travel constraints brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, on-the-ground activities were deferred to 2022 and 2023. Instead, EDC launched a series of IEC and advocacy campaigns to promote awareness on the conservation of the flora and fauna as part of its Flagship Species Initiative (FSI).
On April 14, 2021, EDC presented the different birds found in MAGP and introduced the FSI to the Kidapawan City Tourism Council. This led to the formal adoption of Apo Myna (Goodfellowia miranda or previously Basilornis mirandus) and Almaciga (Agathis philippinensis) as Kidapawan City’s Flagship Species.
In October 2021, EDC partnered with the Kidapawan City Tourism Office to hold a painting contest for Kidapawan City residents and students to promote the conservation and protection of wildlife and biodiversity, highlighting Almaciga Tree and Apo Myna, which are the flagship species of the EDC MAGP. The artworks were displayed at the KCC Mall while the digitized versions were posted online. Voting for the People’s Choice Award artwork was done through social media to expand the reach of the IEC campaign. The winning entries would be permanently displayed at the EDC MAGP’s Biodiversity Hub while the rest of the entries would be placed at the Kidapawan City Hall.
On October 28, EDC organized a seminar on bat conservation attended by 202 participants. The webinar featured Dr. Mariano Roy Duya and Wildlife Biologist Jay Fedelino from the UP Institute of Biology who talked extensively about Philippine bats and their habitat, feeding habits, mating cycles. Meanwhile, For. Keith Harvey Dimaranan and Mr. Cyrus Job dela Cruz from DENR Region V discussed government initiatives on conserving bats and the laws and policies in place to protect them. The webinar not only showcased the Philippine bat species including the Golden-crowned Flying Fox (Acerodon jubatus) but it also aimed to break the negative stigma associated with bats due to the COVID-19 pandemic and raise awareness on their important role in the ecosystem.
Billboards containing information on the flagship fauna and flora species were produced and installed in all project sites. These billboards aimed to introduce the flagship species to the local communities and raise awareness on their ecological importance, threats to the species, and conservation status. The billboards were placed in conspicuous and strategic locations such as public parks and entrances to EDC facilities.
In November 2021, EDC also launched a Digital Poster-Making Contest through its BINHI Page. Entitled “The World You Want”, the competition challenged artists to submit digital posters that depict the importance of protecting Philippine flora and fauna, featuring at least one of EDC’s flagship species in the artwork. A total of 78 participants from all over the country submitted entries. The competition was judged by a pool of plant taxonomists, wildlife conservation specialists, and biodiversity advocates, such as Dr. Arvin Diesmos of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, award-winning environmental communicator and Founder & Director of Best Alternatives Mr. Gregg Yan, UPLB Professor Emeritus Dr. Edwino Fernando, UPLB Professor and BINHI consultant Prof. Pastor Malabrigo, Jr., UP College of Science Dean Dr. Giovanni Tapang, and EDC’s Vice President of Corporate Support Functions Group Ms. Regina Victoria Pascual. In the same month, jinglemaking and vlogging contests were also launched virtually. These contests also aimed to mainstream biodiversity conservation and promote the protection of Igem-dagat (Podocarpus costalis), an endangered tree species adopted as the flagship species of EBWPC in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. The contests were successfully implemented in partnership with Radyo Karruba 91.1 FM and the 12 barangay LGUs of Burgos.
EDC’s biodiversity conservation program and FSI were also featured in two episodes (June 27 and October 3, 2021) of G Diaries, a multi-awarded TV show produced by ABS-CBN Foundation which features stories promoting advocacies for the family, community, and the environment.
On December 3, 2021, EDC was invited to present the Flagship Species Program in the 29th Philippine Biodiversity Symposium organized by the Biodiversity Conservation Society of the Philippines (BSCP). The BCSP is a nationwide organization of conservation advocates who work to advance biodiversity research and conservation in the Philippines. The biodiversity symposium held on December 1-3, 2021 gathered hundreds of wildlife researchers, scientists, and conservationists.
Together with DENR Region V and Albay Parks and Wildlife, EDC marked the celebration of World Wildlife Day 2021 with the release of 10 rescued/rehabilitated Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus) and a tree planting activity at the EDC BMGP Central Nursery area. Afterwards, EDC signed a tripartite partnership with the DENR and the Provincial Government of Albay for the establishment of BINHI Arboretum in the vicinity of Albay Parks and Wildlife.
We understand that our operations can affect the forest environment and the biodiversity contained therein, particularly in activities such as vegetation clearing during the plant development phase. To address this, we aim to contribute to the regeneration of biodiversity within our project and concession areas through various initiatives. In our reforestation efforts, EDC prioritizes the use of indigenous species and supports a “no hunting, no collection policy” within our reservation areas unless otherwise legally permitted. We also encourage integrated pest management in EDC plant nurseries and plantations.
In addition, EDC operates within declared geothermal reservations. All our operations are approved with required forestry permits, complying with relevant forestry and wildlife laws. We have an Integrated Management Plan (IMP) and Comprehensive Development and Management Plan (CDMP) for forested areas. We are also deputized to manage the watershed and we strictly follow and enforce forestry laws within the geothermal reservation, following Executive Order 223. To monitor biodiversity parameters, we have permanent forest plots. We utilize data gathered from these activities to refine our biodiversity management plans. When necessary, we also undertake environmental impact assessments to ensure that our projects and management measures consider social impact and protection of habitat. We partnered with the University of the Philippines – Institute of Biology to ensure greater accuracy and transparency in our monitoring.
In implementing biodiversity conservation programs, EDC works with private and public sectors and the academe. We strictly monitor our geothermal activities to ensure no significant impact on the biodiversity of the areas we operate in.
For 2021, we successfully secured no net forest loss in identified conservation areas within geothermal reservations across all project sites, based on 2020 baseline forest cover.