The Edible Bird’s Nest (EBN), known as the “Caviar of the East,” is a very valuable delicacy. It is widely believed by traditional Chinese medicine that EBN is highly nutritious and has medicinal and therapeutic contents. Because of this, there is a very high demand of this product in the local and international market.
In the past years, Palawan has been recognized as one of the top producer of high quality EBN in the Philippines due to the purity of nests produced by Aerodramus fuciphagus, the EBN producing swiftlet or balinsasayaw in the province. However, due to this very lucrative industry, the production of EBN has drastically declined last year based on the production volume report gathered by the PCSD Staff.
To address this alarming issue, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), the implementing agency of the Wildlife Act or Republic Act No. 9147 and the Caves Act or Republic Act No. 9072, held an EBN Forum last August 17, 2015 to ensure the sustainable management of EBN through collaborative partnerships with key stakeholders: the collectors (locally known as busyador); traders; and local government units.
The forum was designed in order to understand the status of bird’s nest resources, the existing management and utilization of these resources and the impact of these activities to the population of swiftlets including the affected habitats and ecosystems, in order to formulate strategies to ensure their conservation and sustainable development.
Several presentations were prepared to shed light over the EBN industry, these were the following: PCSD’s Policies Related to EBN, presented by Forester Joveic Fabello of PCSDS’ Cave Unit; Swiftlet Biology, presented by Dr. Juan Carlos T. Gonzales, director and professor of zoology at the University of the Philippines Los Banos Museum of Natural History; Caves Ecology, presented by Prof. Phillip Alviola, professor and biologist in UPLB; EBN Collection and Trade Dynamics, presented by Forester Glenda Cadigal, PCSDS’ Coastal Marine Unit; and Potential Ways to Minimize Collection Pressures from the Wild, presented by Prof. Judeline Dimalibot, assistant professor of Animal Biology Division, Institute of Biological Sciences in UPLB.
After the presentations, the participants were divided into three break-out groups to tackle the different aspects of EBN: biology and ecology; trading; and regulation/management. The participants were able to identify collection and trading issues, recommend actions to address these, and identified implementation arrangements or partnership agreements for conservation and sustainable management of EBN.