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Negros Project Showcases Successful Solar Power-Forest Conservation Trade-off Strategy

Posted on August 3, 2014

The Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) and its partners are continuously finding ways to creatively conserve local natural resources while improving lives of the communities that depend on them.

In Negros Occidental, an innovative trade-off strategy is set to provide farmers from Barangay Calamanda-an, Cauayan, with solar energy set-ups for their homes in exchange for their assistance in local reforestation efforts.

The initiative, dubbed as the Solar Home System Project, was formalized through the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) among the Ecological and Agricultural Development Foundation, Inc. (EcoAgri), member-beneficiaries of the Calamanda-an Agro-Forest Association, Inc. (CAFA), and FPE. It is a spin-off component of Phase 2 of the Southern Negros Cauayan Forest Reserve Biodiversity Conservation project of EcoAgri supported by FPE.

The site-focused project also aims to (1) enhance and maintain a 20-hectare reforestation area established during Phase 1 of the initiative; (2) deliver sustainable livelihood support through the promotion of local lemon grass oil and organic food production industries; (3) address geographic information systems (GIS) mapping activities, as well as profiling of ongoing traditional mining practices in the area; and (4) provide for regular forest patrolling mechanisms and awareness-raising throughout the community, among others.

FPE-EcoAgri-CAFA MOA Signing (May 2014)

Click the image above to watch a video clip of scenes from the MOA signing event held in May 2014. (Credit: EcoAgri)

24 homes immediately received a 120-watt solar panel for their respective homes upon the signing of the MOA. Each panel has the capacity to light a bulb, power a TV set or radio unit, and charge a mobile phone.

Each recipient farmer household is then expected to establish a 1.5 hectare bio-fence to help protect and support a rainforest farm that covers the nine forest patches located in the barangay. The CAFA members have also committed to provide a forest patrolling scheme.

The parties are optimistic that the project will pay large dividends in the efforts to protect the forest reserve located within the Southern Negros town, while also enhancing the lives of the community members. The sustainable power source is likewise seen to improve communication between the Calamanda-an farmers and the Cauayan municipal government.

In addition to realizing components of EcoAgri’s Cauayan Forest Reserve conservation project, this solar power trade-off scheme also complements a pair of recent, larger-scale solar energy projects set elsewhere in Negros Occidental.

Two days prior to the MOA signing between EcoAgri, CAFA, and FPE, a 22-megawatt solar power farm in San Carlos City was inaugurated by President Benigno S. Aquino III under the the San Carlos Solar (SaCaSol) Energy project. As reported by SunStar Bacolod, it is currently “the first large-scale commercially financed and commissioned solar power plant” in the country.

In addition, SaCaSol kicked off another solar energy project the following day, an 18-megawatt solar farm in La Carlota City.

 

Reference: Trading off solar power for forest conservation (SunStar News - Bacolod)

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