About CEC

PINE TREE, The Cordillera Ecological Center

PINE TREE creates local solutions for global environment problems.

PINE TREE is globally multi-awarded a non-profit group in La Trinidad, Benguet, Philippines. It develops and implements sustainable biodiversity conservation, safe livelihood practices such as agroecology and indigenous peoples’ rights. It also conducts research and implements educational activities through training.

It was founded by Michael A. Bengwayan in 2000.

PINE TREE’s goal is to promote conservation and environmental justice for the rural poor by providing education and livelihood environmental enterprises like organic agriculture, agroforestry and alternative energy to lessen peoples’ dependence on forests. PINE TREE is also strongly promoting and supporting seedbanking and anti-biopiracy activities with the help of United Nations Development Programme and World Bank

The initial funds of PINE TREE were provided by the New York City-based Echoing Green Foundation (www.echoinggreen.org), an international institution advocating social entrepreneurship worldwide, when it chose Michael A. Bengwayan, a European Union-ASEAN and Ford Foundation Ph.D. Fellow (http://www.echoinggreen.org/fellows/michael-bengwayan) as one of its Social Entrepreneur Fellow winners in 2001. Michael is the only Filipino to be selected as Echoing Green Foundation Fellow so far. For winning a Echoing Green Foundation Fellowship, he was awarded $US 60,000.

To date, PINE TREE has won a United Nations Development Program Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) Ecology Award in 2004, the Toyota Foundation 2007 Environmental Award, the World Bank 2007 Development Marketplace Environment Award, and the 2008 Ford Motors Ecological Award.


The MISSION of PINE TREE is “fighting poverty and environmental decay through social change.”

To do this, it provides appropriate information that enables common people to implement and concretize culturally acceptable, ecologically sustainable, gender sensitive, and economically viable activities that promote equitable use, management, conservation and development of natural resources.

PINE TREE focuses on agroecology or nature farming, conservation and indigenous knowledge because the three are interrelated and interdependent.


PINE TREE believes that education and information are tools for knowledge and can empower marginalized and disenfranchised people directly dependent on natural resources. It adheres that empowerment is essential but is not the only means to achieve meaningful reforms.   It also believes that, for a development agenda to be successful, especially a conservation or agricultural program, the rights and privileges of indigenous peoples should be recognized and protected without pre-conditions under recognized international, national, local and most important, traditional laws and statutes.

As most local people are affected by biodiversity conservation and agriculturally-related programs, PINE TREE   opines that indigenous knowledge and traditional resource rights are important factors that should be considered because both immensely contribute to the formation of conventional and scientific know-how and environmental justice.


By providing proper education, skills and training, PINE TREE helps bridge the poverty gap and helps ensure biodiversity conservation and food security.

PINE TREE   provides skills training and technical assistance, livelihood development, technological and educational support.

To achieve its MISSION, the PINE TREE Center has two goals: educate as well as implement skills enhancement on appropriate conservation, agroecology and sustainable farming.

It also promotes culturally acceptable technologies that help local peoples develop, manage, use, benefit from and conserve natural resources better, and; educate, inform, stimulate policy-advocacy and arouse public interest and debate   among leaders, scientists, researchers, students, development workers and policy-makers.


PINE TREE has received funding from Echoing Green Foundation, World Bank,  World Wildlife Fund (WWF),  UNDP-GEF, NCIV, Toyota Foundation, Wilde Ganzen; Conservation, Food and Health Foundation; ICCO, IDEX, Seed Tree International, Capt. Planet Foundation,  Virginia Gildersleeve Foundation, Environmental Resource Management (ERM), Niwano Peace Foundation, United Nations University, UNFAO 1% for Development, Womankind, PACAP, and AusAid.



Michael, born in Baguio City, traces his Igorot ancestry to the hinterlands of Talubin, Samoki and Gonogon, Mountain Province, Philippines.

In 2000, he won a Fellowship on Social Entrepreneurship by the Echoing Green Foundation (EGF) of New York City and remains the only Filipino EGF Fellow so far. He completed his Fellowship in 2004.

He received his post-doctoral education on Social Entrepreneurship at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA. He continued as a Fellow of Reinhard Mohn in Non-Profit Media in Berlin, Germany in 2005. He finished graduate studies in environmental science, development studies, advanced journalism, and rural development as a European Union Fellow, Ford Foundation Fellow and Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) Fellow at University College Dublin, Ireland, at the Irish Council for Overseas Students (ICOS) in Leuven, Belgium and Kalmar University in Sweden, respectively.

He was a former training management specialist of the National Training Center and founder of the Igorot Tribal Assistance Group (ITAG).