This is an Entry to the Government Best Practice Recognition Awards
WVSU CAF: Stewardship for Nature’s Future
West Visayas State University (WVSU)
Best practice Focus Area(s)
Leadership, Social and environmental responsibility, Convergence, Strategic planning and deployment
WVSU CAF is an Agriculture and Forestry College established in 1950 with a school reservation of 3,417 hectares. Since then, the persistent problems of illegal settlers are observed, yet, these are viewed as opportunities. The best practice of the school is its pro-active projects as a steward of the agriculture and forest resources within its campus. The program is best presented in its major components:
- WVSU Wildlife Conservation Center (formerly Mari-it Center) that started as a rescue center and later evolved into the Wildlife Center that now houses and breeds Critically Endangered Tarictic (Visayan Writhed Hornbill), Visayan Warty Pig, Visayan Spotted deer, Dulungan, Wild Cat (Maral) and other wildlife species.
- Employment and livelihood for settlers through Agri and agro production partnerships, carbon sink projects through agroforestry partnership with agencies that resulted to almost half a million trees (Handumanan project; 180 hectares, DBP 500 hectares and the NGP in various sizes of 180, 120 and 100 hectares) planted and tons of carbon sequestered through GIZ, DBP, and GBP).
- Community partnership through usufruct agreements for (1) Jayubo National High School. And the proposed usufruct agreement for the barangay LGU of Jayubo and barangay residents that are illegally residing within the school reservation.
Background and Problem
The program is designed to strengthen academic engagement with the community and its pivotal role as steward of nature, forest resources, wildlife, and the promotion of ecosystem services. The three-pronged approach of accomplishing this goal has been designed as a response to the following challenges:
- Illegal poaching and hunting have been dwindling the biodiversity of the area and the Panay Mountains. The strategic location of the school fits the role of the rescue center and this later evolved into its operations as a breeding center.
- WVSU CAF is the entry point to the last forest reserves of Panay Mountains. Its role as a carbon sink area must be protected. This facilitated the entry of agricultural and reforestation projects in partnership with the community residents as funded by GiZ, DBP and GBP resulted in documented CO2 emission reduction.
- The academic reservation has been beset by illegal residences and tenurial claims from the settlers and the Indigenous Peoples (Sulod Bukidnon). This started the conceptualization of the usufruct agreements for the High School and now the usufruct and lot for the barangay center and illegal settlers are being facilitated.
Solution and Impact
WVSU CAF’s theory of change is anchored on its mandate of instruction, extension, and research and is designed to respond to the urgency of protecting nature as part of its stewardship role in the community to achieve improvement of lives through equity and practice. This is also anchored on the agriculture and forestry goals of ensuring food security and sustainable management of forest resources. This is encompassed in three components:
- WVSU Wildlife and ecotourism Center (formerly Mari it),
- Private-Public Partnership reforestation and Agri- and agro production that is aimed at Carbon sequestration, an engagement with corporations and funders, and
- Community partnership and nurturance through usufruct agreements for secondary school and barangay residential and institutional sites.
These initiatives resulted in the operationalization of a wildlife center, the only wildlife center in the country managed by a University and is used for its academic mandate and the protection and breeding of the Critically Endangered species of Panay; Provision of livelihood and employment to farmers resulted in productive rice farms and also hundreds of hectares of denuded forest planted with indigenous timber species and fruit trees that provided employment to at least 160 families and ensured their source of fruits, fuelwood, and income and rice. Usufruct agreement for the Jayubo National High School within the university area ensures them of a permanent lot for their academic development and ongoing usufruct agreement for the barangay institutional and residential area (20 hectares) that will provide residential lots to hundreds of settlers.
Long term impacts are seen in the change in the quality of lives of the community within and around the campus. Carbon Sequestration from the established reforestation project (a portion of the 481,000 tons of CO2 emission reduction as reported by GIZ) and local and national awareness of the plight of the Critically Endangered fauna of Panay Mountains based on the WVSU Wildlife center initiatives.
Protection and breeding of the critically endangered (IUCN) Tarictic and Panay Warty Pig, the endangered (IUCN) Protection and breeding of the critically endangered (IUCN) Tarictic and Panay Warty Pig, the endangered (IUCN)