The Cleopatra’s Needle Critical Habitat (CNCH) Technical Working Group (TWG) is teaching communities the values of conservation for CNCH through a Behavior Change Communication (BCC) campaign, which includes puppet shows and other educational and interactive activities.
From Dec. 16 to 18, the group began the campaign in a three-day caravan around all seven barangays of CNCH to educate locals on their roles and responsibilities as communities living in areas declared as “critical habitat.”
Zarina C. Arellano of City ENRO said participants of previous consultations and forums have pointed out the lack of awareness among CNCH’s locals regarding the declaration of their place as a critical habitat.
One of the most anticipated activities was a puppet show entitled “Ginto sa Dagta.” It is a musical that follows the adventures of two children belonging to the Batak community in Cleopatras Needle, locally known as “Puyos. After facing issues on the over-tapping of Almaciga and wildlife trafficking, their community has eventually learned the importance of forest conservation to sustain their culture and livelihoods.
Arellano shared, “We try to involve all affected barangay officials, indigenous peoples, youth, and all sectors in this activity as they are the front liners in the conservation and management of CNCH. They must be empowered to protect and police their own areas from illegal and destructive activities.”
Cleopatra’s Needle, found in Puerto Princesa City, is one of the most diverse and oldest forests in the country and is home to multiple endemic species. To provide it additional protection, it was declared a critical habitat on Dec. 15, 2017 through PCSD Resolution No. 17-612.
City Mayor Lucilo R. Bayron signed an executive order forming an Interim Management Committee and a TWG while the management plan for CNCH is being completed.
Arellano shared that they are looking forward to having the CNCH management plan approved by the proper authorities before the year 2020 ends.
The actual caravan is a collaborative effort among the City Environmental and Natural Resources Office, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, USAID Protect Wildlife, and Centre for Sustainability.