MINERVA BC NEWMAN
DUMAGUETE CITY – Silliman University (SU) and the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) have forged a partnership on October 9 to rescue and preserve endangered Philippine tree species by establishing an arboretum inside the Center for Tropical Conservation Studies (CENTROP), SU’s field laboratory grounds in Palinpinon, Valencia, Negros Oriental.
The virtual signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) aims to establish the arboretum, a garden where various tree species are grown and preserved for scientific and educational purposes; a haven for the long-term survival of endangered trees.
SU president, Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann said during the virtual MOA signing ceremony that the partnership with EDC’s BINHI Program helps widen CENTROP’s impact by promoting forest conservation and the preservation and propagation of threatened native tree species.
“By establishing an arboretum at our Palinpinon facility, Silliman and EDC create a refuge for Philippine native trees that are critically endangered or at the brink of extinction due to deforestation,” McCann added.
McCann said it is Silliman’s fervent hope that this arboretum may serve not only as a tree refuge and source of viable seeds for reforestation but also as a venue for student and community learning to enhance and nurture conservation and environmental awareness.
McCann bared that CENTROP has played a significant role in the monitoring and protection of key biodiversity areas in Negros and other critical habitats within the Visayas.
Established under the SU Biology Department, CENTROP is known globally for its captive breeding program for the following threatened and endemic Philippine wildlife species: the Philippine spotted deer, Visayan warty pig, and Negros bleeding heart, McCann said.
According to Dr. Nadia Palomar-Abesamis, SU-Biology Department chair that the partnership is a testament of both organizations’ steadfast commitment to preserve Philippine biodiversity and the environment, and their shared belief that “great and meaningful endeavors will only succeed if we do it collectively with others.”
EDC Corporate Social Responsibility Head for Negros Norreen Bautista said that the partnership to establish the arboretum is just one of EDC’s several joint projects with SU in its shared commitment to preserving the environment.
According to Bautista that the arboretum will be a collection of Philippines threatened tree species under BINHI, EDC’s flagship environment program to strengthen its niche programs on forest biodiversity, biotechnology, and conservation biology for instruction, research and extension.
She added that it will provide Silliman University with the native tree seedlings from its priority species under BINHI, as well as technical assistance in monitoring and maintaining the tree species.
EDC is a Filipino renewable energy company under the Lopez Group. It has its second-biggest geothermal facility in Valencia, Negros Oriental, Bautista said that BINHI is a nationwide program for forest restoration and the country’s largest private sector-led greening initiative that aims to restore denuded forests, preserve and propagate threatened native tree species, and protect biodiversity.
Bautista bared that through BINHI, EDC has planted a total of about 6.44 million seedlings since the program began in 2008 and has reforested 3,394 hectares in the Negros Island. (Photos: SU/Melita Aguilar)