UP Visayas inks agreement with Victorias City to restore and protect Gawahon Eco-park

UP Visayas inks agreement with Victorias City to restore and protect Gawahon Eco-park

The University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) entered into an agreement with the city government of Victorias in Negros Occidental to undertake efforts for the conservation, protection, and restoration, promote environmental education and awareness, conduct research and monitoring, promote sustainable tourism and recreation, responsible and sustainable utilization of bioresources, foster community engagement, and advocate for the protection and conservation of Gawahon Eco-park. 

The signing of the Memorandum of Agreement took place last 10 October 2023 at the OICA Conference Room, UPV Iloilo City campus. Representing Victorias City was its Mayor, Hon. Javier “Javi” Benitez. UPV was represented by Chancellor Clement Camposano. Meanwhile, Hon. Jose Francisco “Kiko” Benitez, congressman of the 3rd District of Negros Occident, and Dr. Harold Monteclaro, Vice Chancellor for Research and Extension, signed as witnesses. 

Gawahon Eco-park is a 162-hectare forest area in Victorias City, which lies within the North Negros Natural Park (NNNP) and home to a wide array of flora and fauna. It plays a critical role in the biodiversity of the whole NNNP. 

Also widely known as a haven for bird watchers or birders, a rich variety of birds thrive in the area, including the Black-naped Monarchs, Buff-eared Brown Doves, Citrine Canary Fkycatchers, Flame-templed Babblers, Elegant Tits, Indigo Banded Kingfishers, Visayan Flowerpeckers, Lemon-throated Leaf-Warblers, Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers, Visayan Bulbuls, Visayan Fantails, Visayan Tarictic Hornbill, White-bellied Munias, White-throated Jungle Flycatchers, and the Yellowish White-Eyes.

Dr. Carmelo Del Castillo, Director of the UPV National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, underscored how the people of Negros passionately protect their natural treasures during his welcome remarks. 

Chancellor Camposano, on the other hand, emphasized UPV’s commitment to provide experts to conduct research and periodical ecological assessment of the park, including flora and fauna, ecosystems, and endangered or endemic species, to mention a few. 

Mayor Javi Benitez highlighted the value of the collaboration between Victorias City and UPV during his message. “In the history of Gawahon, this is the first time that we are having an academic institution as a partner…This is the best partner that Victorias City can have for the Gawahon Eco-park,” he said. “I know that this is not only for our government and your institution but really for future generations so that they can be more aware of our developing world,” he added.

Grateful that UPV agreed to help Victorias City, Cong. Kiko Benitez thanked the University administration in his message. “Fundamentally, as a research station, the entirety of the North Negros Natural Park is poised to be a template of how to balance ecological protection with the development required for the people who actually live within or around the peripheries of the park,” he explained. “And I cannot think of any institution, nationally, who has the capacity to ensure that this experiment, this balancing act, which will be a model of how we address development moving forward, none other, of course, than UP Visayas.”

Also present to witness the signing were Dr. Philip Ian Padilla, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Dr. Rhodella Ibabao, Vice Chancellor for Planning and Development; Prof. John Lorenz Belanio, Vice Chancellor for Administration; Dr. Resurreccion Sadaba, Project Development Assistant - Biodiversity; Dr. Ramer Bautista, Dean of the School of Technology; Dr. Cristy Acabado of the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences - Institute of Food Processing Technology; and Engr. Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office - Department of Environment and Natural Resources (PENRO-DENR) Negros Occidental. (With sources from the Office of the Chancellor)

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