Out of 10,975 hectares of forest land in Bindoy, only 1,420.92 hectares of natural forest remained in 2010 caused by illegal tree cutting and the use of kaingin method. In 1998, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) declared that the Mantalip Reef was devastated due to dynamite fishing, muro-ami, and compressor fishing with the use of cyanide. These alarming trends prompted the municipality to launch the Ridge to Reef Program to implement social and technical approaches to address the degradation of upland and coastal ecosystems by adopting alternative strategies for farmers and fishermen to earn their living while preserving the environment.
Given that 70% of its population are farmers and fisherfolk, the municipality launched a campaign to educate its constituents on the need to preserve the environment which served as their main source of livelihood. The program applied two approaches, upland resource management and development, and coastal resource management and development. For the upland, farmers and other stakeholders were consulted on what crops to plant, and farmers were given cash incentives ranging from PhP1,000-5,000 per hectare to plant timber, bamboo and coffee.
In partnership with the DENR and the National Greening Program (NGP), the municipality achieved increased forest cover from 1,420.92 hectares in 2010 to 5,420.92 hectares in 2018.
Moreover, 2,828 hectares of timber plantations, 200 hectares of agroforestry, 620 hectares of coffee plantations,125 hectares of native trees, and 85 hectares of bamboo plantations were revitalized. Its 75 hectares dedicated to cacao and rubber had an 86% survival rate. There was also an increased appearance of bird species which initially disappeared prior to the implementation of the program.
The coastal resource management and development efforts led to the creation of a 65-hectare marine sanctuary covering five (5) coastal barangays. To revive the Mantalip Reef, the municipality collaborated with the World Bank and mobilized PhP 1.5 million funding support for the construction of the Mantalip guard house and patrol boat. This was part of the municipality’s efforts in providing 24/7 protection of the 46-hectare Mantalip Reef. The guard house was also expanded to accommodate a visitors’ area and was later developed as an eco-tourism destination in 2008. The presence of the Black-spotted Snapper, commonly known as aluman (Tagalog) or labongan (Visayan), which had not appeared for more than eight years, was a positive indication of the municipality’s success in its conservation efforts.
Bindoy also deputized 42 sea rangers in all six coastal barangays to monitor any illegal fishing activities. Local fisherfolk were able to coordinate with and report any illegal activities to the sea rangers and the Bantay Dagat using a telephone hotline. With the strict enforcement of the law, the municipality observed an increase in fish catch from 1-2 kgs in 2010 to 4-5 kgs in 2016. There was also an improved hard coral cover from 43.6% in 2012 to 59.5% in 2017.
In 2012, the municipality of Bindoy partnered with an NGO, Rare Philippines, to implement a social marketing campaign on marine conservation. Called the Pride campaign, various activities were undertaken to help fisherfolk change their traditional ways of fishing which was harmful to the environment. These included games, information materials, and community events which were designed to promote deeper understanding on the value of preserving coastal resources as well as modify harmful fishing practices. Social marketing was incorporated in local festivities such as the Fisherfolks’ day and Libod Sayaw festival to generate broad participation. The Pride campaign culminated with the creation of their own mascot called “Lovie”, representing the resurgence of the Black-spotted Snapper following Bindoy’s conservation efforts. The environmental conservation efforts of Bindoy municipality received several citations such as the 2018 Gawad Tugas Award for Region VII Biodiversity Conservation and Management, 2017 Ocean Hero Award for Best Managed Marine Protected Area in the Philippines, among others.