Solar Lights for Rainforest Protection

Twenty-four homes in Camalandaan, an upland barangay in Cauayan, Negros Occidental have now access to solar energy.

The ceremonial lights on program  was  held at Camalandaan National High School on Tuesday in the presence of representatives of the Ecological  and Agricultural Development Foundation, Inc.,  the Foundation  for Philippine Environment  and the Camalandaan Agroforest Association, Inc.

Also held was the signing of a memorandum of agreement among CAFA members who are beneficiaries of the solar home system installation, FPE and  EcoAgri – which is headed by Ramon Uy Jr. —  which implements  the Southern Negros Cauayan Forest Reserve  Biodiversity Conservation Project Phase 2.

The MOA stipulates that FPE funding, a major component,  the Solar Home Systems, will be installed  in  selected households of members of the Bantay Lasang, a local forest conservation group, through a trade-off for the establishment of a 1.5-ha.  rainforest farm per household for bio fencing of nine forest patches in Camalandaan.

The agreement was signed by the 24 farmer-recipients of solar panels;  Nestor Carbonera, CEO of FP;  Godofredo Villapando Jr., FPE executive director;  and  Aladino Moraca, EcoAgri executive director.

Witnessing the signing ceremony were Jemuel Dulla, CAFA president; Camalandaan Barangay Captain Ceasar Penas;  and representatives of partner agencies — Ascencion Santocildes of DENR/CENRO-Kabankalan, Ronald Gareza of DAR-Negros Occidental and Gemma dela Paz of the Provincial Environment Management Office.

“This formula will help not just the Forest reserve but also the community that helps preserve it”, Moraca said.

Houses of beneficiaries each have been installed a 120-watt solar panel that could light a bulb, charge cell phone batteries and power appliances, like television and radio.

Moraca added that each panels costs P28, 000.

Dulla said that the solar power system will improve their means of communication, especially in reporting to the Cauayan LGU.

“I am glad that we have now our own source of electricity because before we spent almost a gallon of kerosene a week just to light our house”,  Casimero Nabalitan, a beneficiary, said.

The agreement also provides that CAFA must implement a scheme for forest patrolling, biofencing, and corridor establishment in the nine forest patches they cover, work closely with its members to ensure that the agreement is complied and resolve issues and concerns among its members on issues related to this project.

Carbonera said they hope to install more solar panels in the community in June “to help not only the people but also in preserving nature.”

A ceremonial planting of endemic and fruit trees capped the event.