Trainers show local residents of Pag-Oring Nuevo how to cultivate seedlings that will grow into Narra trees, during a skills course hosted by Libmanan Wind Farm (inset image credit: Geographer)
A remote community in the uplands of the Philippines’ Luzon island has been upskilling to support both its economy and its forested environment, seizing an opportunity that has been created in the final development phase of the neighbouring Libmanan wind farm project.
Some 165 residents of Pag-Oring Nuevo, a small ‘barangay’ district in the province of Camarines Sur, recently attended a Tree Seedling Cultivation course that was hosted by Mainstream and our local joint venture entity, Cornerstone Energy Development Inc (CEDI), as part of a wider livelihood training programme.
Staff from the government’s local Community Environment and Natural Resource Office (CENRO) instructed the mostly female participants in how to grow saplings and establish their own mini-nurseries from seeds of the Narra tree, a native hardwood species that, while a victim of over-logging nationally, is abundant in this hilly region.
CENRO – an arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – has jurisdiction over all environmental management, regulatory and permitting matters at local levels, and recent engagement with the Libmanan project team has focused on a forthcoming application for Tree Cutting Permits (TCPs).
Construction on the project site, located on top of a forested mountain plateau, will require an area of up to 50 hectares to be cleared and involve the felling of an estimated 500 trees. As a condition of any TCP, the project will have to replace every tree with 100 seedlings, and rather than source these from commercial suppliers, the opportunity was identified to create an economic benefit for the local community, and in particular, an income generator for its women.
CEDI – a Special Purpose Vehicle co-owned with AboitizPower subsidiary Aboitiz Renewables, Inc – provided 12,500 seedling bags and 141 propagation trays to get the training programme started; the first of 50,000 seedlings that will either be planted in areas designated by the DENR or donated to its nursery.
Kenneth Manzano, Mainstream’s Community Liaison Officer for the Libmanan wind project, also known as the Camarines Sur project, explained how the DENR-CENRO in nearby Sipocot provided instructors as part of its technical assistance remit, and the newly trained cultivators will be organised in groups across the barangay to grow the seedlings and, potentially, be employed by the wind farm to plant them, too.
He said: “Our aim is for our host communities to benefit from our projects. And we hope that through this Tree Seedling Growing Programme, the residents will take advantage of this opportunity and benefit.”
The potential financial gain for local families was underlined by Pag-Oring Nuevo’s Barangay Captain, Tess Abasola, who told me: “We would like to thank Mainstream/CEDI for this livelihood training. This is a really big opportunity for our community to earn a living. We would also like to thank CEDI for the many projects that they have given our community, and we in the barangay council, and the community as a whole, look forward to working more with CEDI in the future.”
Libmanan Wind Farm
Libmanan Wind Farm has been in development since 2017 with local partner, Cornerstone Energy Development Inc. In 2022, Mainstream announced a joint venture with local company, AboitizPower to co-develop the project with an aim to deliver the project into commercial operation in 2026.
Our community liaison team work closely with the host community of Pag-Oring Nuevo supporting the community where we are developing the project.
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