Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) partnered with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other stakeholders to strengthen initiatives on access and benefit sharing (ABS) of genetic resources in Central Luzon.
During an inception workshop held at Hacienda Gracia in Lubao town, DENR Regional Executive Director Paquito Moreno Jr. explained that the project aims to protect biodiversity and natural resources by pooling together resources ang making knowledge accessible to empower each one to play their part in environment protection.
“We encounter a multitude of threats that we protect biodiversity from such as illegal logging, poaching, and unsustainable practices. So this is an opportunity to boost conservation efforts of indigenous trees in Central Luzon, which would likewise be supplemental to the government’s existing reforestation program, as well as in the efforts to sustain the population of native trees that prevent them from potential extinction,” he said.
In Central Luzon, Moreno noted that though the project will initially focus on the Banaba tree, it will ultimately represent a multi-sectoral effort to ensure that caring and protecting the environment goes hand-in-hand with benefitting from the flora and fauna.
“This will improve the value chain of Banaba and soon, all species, ensuring that we are ever more conscious of our dependence on nature for our survival through the challenges of climate change and economic stress,” he said.
With its medicinal properties, the market potential of Banaba offers high profitability and accessibility as the tree is found all over Central Luzon where it is typically planted along roadsides.
Research shows that a tea made from boiling its leaves is used to maintain kidney health and lower blood sugar. Its bark is said to be good for diarrhea, while its root extracts act as a pain reliever.
For her part, Biodiversity Management Bureau Deputy Director and ABS National Project Chair Natividad Bernardino said the multi-sectoral initiative funded by the Global Environment Facility is an opportunity to advance the inclusion of endemic and abundant genetic resources in the value chain, consequently increasing their market value.