The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here, along with experts from the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), convened in an inception workshop aimed at strengthening benefit-sharing and conservation of the country’s genetic resources, particularly its endemic flora.
Natividad Bernardino, deputy director of BMB and chair of the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) National Project, notes that this multi-sectoral initiative funded by the Global Environment Facility is an opportunity to advance the inclusion of endemic and abundant genetic resources in the value chain, consequently increasing their market value.
“The ABS Project is a step forward to developing at least two bio-products from local genetic resources of Banaba in Region 3 (Lagerstroemia speciosa) and Pili tree (Canarium ovatum and Canarium luzonicum) in Region 5,” Bernardino explained.
The workshop held in Lubao, Pampanga served as an avenue to establish strategic collaboration and partnerships among local government units, Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Department of Science and Technology, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Health, Pharmalytics Corporation, Herbanext Laboratories Inc., indigenous peoples, and other key stakeholders who are both beneficiaries and advocates of the project’s full implementation in Region 3 for the next six years.
For his part, DENR Regional Executive Director Paquito Moreno, Jr. welcomed this initiative as an opportunity to boost conservation efforts of indigenous trees in Central Luzon, which would likewise be supplemental to the government’s existing reforestation program, as well as in the efforts to sustain the population of native trees that prevent them from potential extinction.
“This will improve the value chain of Banaba and soon, all species, ensuring that we are ever more conscious of our dependence on nature for our survival through the challenges of climate change and economic stress,” Moreno said.
He added that this project resonates fully with the guidance of Environment Secretary Ma. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga to protect indigenous species as part of natural heritage and harness these resources for the benefit of the country.
Moreno notes that with the medicinal properties of Banaba—an indigenous tree species to the Philippines and Southeast Asia—its market potential offers high profitability and accessibility as the tree is found all over Central Luzon where it is typically planted along roadsides.
Research shows that a tea made from boiling the leaves of Banaba is used to maintain kidney health and lower blood sugar. Its bark is said to be good for diarrhea, while its root extracts act as a pain reliever. (-30-)