A beekeeping project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Mt. Hamiguitan sanctuary has tapped the Green Solutions Agricultural Farming Training Center (GSAFTC) to bring beekeeping expertise to the industry teeming with international market potential.
The Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) looks forward to improved crop production for its honey enterprise on its farms in Brgys. San Isidro and General Generoso, Davao Oriental.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between MHRWS Protected Area Management Board and GSAFTC to expand collaboration on training, marketing-promotional work, and experimental and technology demonstration on beekeeping.
The beekeeping livelihood program is a special project called “Beekeeping as Bio-diversity-Friendly Community-Based Enterprise in MHRWS” of the DENR as part of forest conservation.
Mt. Hamiguitan is a wildlife sanctuary recognized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organization) to have a universal value. It is home to globally threatened flora and fauna eight of which are found only Mt. Hamiguitan itself.
The beekeeping project in Mt Hamiguitan ensures the surrounding communities have a livelihood so that they do not resort to illegal forest activities around Mt. Hamiguitan.
Beekeeping is also known to have a very important “pollinating” function in the ecosystem, enhancing environmental balance. It contributes to the rapid generation of forest reserves.
The government sees a good market potential for beekeeping products (pollen, propolis, beeswax, and value-added products including honey wine, honey, and propolis-based soap, massage oil, shampoo, and ointment). The Philippines even imports honey. Local producers may be able to fill that import volume.
With a more dependable livelihood and income, residents of the buffer zone of Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) are turning to become strong forest guards who help conserve the forests and biodiversity of the protected site.
People’s Organizations to benefit from the project are the Progressive Organic Farmers and Fisherfolks Towards Ecology Conservation of Talisay (PROFTECT) of San Isidro, Davao Oriental, and PO Sergio Osmena Rattan Association of Sergio Osmena, Governor Generoso.
The beekeeping project has been financed under DENR’s special project fund supervised by the Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Service (FASPS).
The project already identified two potential expansion sites in Sto Rosario, San Isidro, and Macambol, City of Mati.
The project was compelled to transfer the beekeeping activity to the GSAFTC site which serves as the recovery area for the propagation of the bee colonies. This is because an infestation of the small beehive beetles occurred due to the erratic weather. This caused the decline of colonies from 241 to 89.
Part of the project’s target is to come up with local policies on biodiversity-friendly enterprise and sustainable honey production. As such, an ordinance for the preservation, habitat protection, and collection of bee products from the wild has been drafted together with the legislative members from municipal and barangay levels, Davao Oriental State University, Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and municipal tourism offices.
The DTI and Department of Science & Technology (DOST) also facilitated training of beneficiaries on handling and packaging of bee products.
Mt. Hamiguitan is being strictly protected as it faces threats of conversion of land for agriculture. There are also mining threats outside the site.
Potential risks from climate change and increasing tourism are now being addressed by DENR.
Mt. Hamiguitan is known for its highly diverse mountain ecosystem that makes it home to a number of endemic species known only in Mindanao and particularly found only in Mt. Hamiguitan.
“The combination of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within the boundaries of the property and the large number of species inhabiting each makes the MHRWS home to a total of 1,380 species with 341 Philippine endemics,” according to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
That includes critically endangered species — the iconic Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi). Also considered endangered are the Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), the trees Shorea polysperma, Shorea astylosa, and the orchid Paphiopedilum adductum.
“Its high level of endemicity is well exemplified by the proportion of its amphibian (75% endemic) and reptile (84% endemic) species. The fragile tropical ‘bonsai’ forest that crowns the MHRWS epitomizes nature’s bid to survive in adverse conditions,” UNESCO said.
Scientists believe there may be more undiscovered unique flora and fauna in the mountain range.
“In the lower elevations, the agro-ecosystem and remnants of dipterocarp forests house some 246 plant species including significant numbers of endemics such as the globally threatened dipterocarps of the genus Shorea.”
“The dipterocarp forest ecosystem is characterized by the presence of large trees and is home to 418 plant and 146 animal species, which include threatened species such as the Mindanao Bleeding-heart dove (Gallicolumba crinigera) and Philippine warty pig (Sus philippensis).”