Indira Dayang Lacerna-Widdman, the chief operations officer of the Katala Foundation Inc. (KFI), is known for her protection and conservation advocacies for Philippine Cockatoo, or locally known as Katala. Over the years, however, the scope of her work at KFI has expanded in scale; it now includes other threatened wildlife species such as Palawan Hornbill, Palawan Forest Turtle, Palawan Pangolin, Camalian Deer, and Balabac Mousedeer, to name a few.
Palawan is the Philippine’s last ecological frontier. But amidst the government’s efforts to clamp down on illegal environmental activities and avenues to raise the consciousness of the Palaweños on the importance of Palawan biodiversity, treats and violations to Palawan biosphere are never dormant worsened by capitalism and blatant neglect. Hence, the birth of KATALA Foundation Inc. (KFI) with the leadership of Ms. Indira Dayang-Widdman is a bolster to the environmental protection and conservation undertakings in Palawan such as protecting and conserving its wildlife resources.
KFI has effectuated major impacts in the province since its establishment on August 19, 2002. Some of which are the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program (PCCP) since 1998; Philippine Freshwater Turtle Conservation Project (PFTCP) since 2007; Katala Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation (KIEBC) since 2006; Katala Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation (KIEBC) since 2006; Palawan Deer Research and Conservation Program (PDRCP); and Forest rehabilitation and protection since 2007. Moreover, she and her team at KFI have also initiated an exhibit of the Critical Habitat for Philippine Cockatoo at the Katala Institute, a center for conservation, research and education focusing on the highly threatened species in Palawan Biosphere Reserves (BRs).
In light of her accomplishments and the KFI’s, Ms. Dayang-Widdman has received a number of accolades here and abroad. In 2017, she became a Whitley Awardee or the Green Oscars in the United Kingdom.
The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) also salutes her invaluable work towards the conservation and protection of wildlife species in Palawan. With all these, PCSDS has recognized and awarded its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Planet Champion Award for 2022 to Ms. Dayang-Widdman, for her outstanding contributions to the conservation, protection, and preservation of the environmental integrity of Palawan Biosphere Reserves.
In employing appropriate methods and proactive approaches for environmental conservation and protection in Palawan, she and the KFI are a testament that no job is daunting when realized with commitment, passion, and high regard for its long-term results. In keeping up with their mission “to effect conservation of biological resources through active community involvement – conserving with people”, they are not alone; PCSDS is one with them!