Monday, December 18, 2017
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    Strengthening Role of Indigenous People in Biodiversity Conservation and Environmental Governance
    To protect remaining cultural and biological diversity in target ancestral domains and maintaining a healthy flow of ecosystem services for the well-being of the community
    Barangays Gogognan, Barake and Sagpangan in Aborlan, Palawan
    Area for Protection: 12,000 hectares of ancestral domain
    1,600 individuals
    2 years and 8 months

    The province of Palawan is known as the Philippine’s “last ecological frontier”. Based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature classification, it has 105 out of the 475 threatened species in the Philippines. Of the 105 threatened species, 67 are endemic to the Philippines, while 42 of the 67 Philippine endemics are Palawan endemics. Its coastal and marine ecosystems include coral reef, seagrass meadow and mangrove that serve as habitats to freshwater fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, migratory birds and terrestrial mammals. Despite its high conservation value, the forest is threatened by human activities like logging, encroachment of migrant settlers, poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

    Significantly, these sites are also considered the ancestral domain of and largely inhabited by the Tagbanua tribe which comprise about 51percent of the local population. They have been working towards conservation and sustainable utilization of these resources, employing traditional ecological indigenous knowledge, skills and practices.

    USAID, through the Philippine-American Fund, works with the Nagkakaisang Tribu ng Palawan, Inc. (NATRIPAL) in promoting viable conservation enterprises through sustainable harvesting of wild honey and Almaciga resin. Building on the experiences of the Tagbanua tribe, the project addresses threats through

    biodiversity mapping and inventory, enrichment planting, community-based
    monitoring, support to ancestral domain documentation, training of forest and biodiversity stewards and conservation enterprise development. The provision of alternative livelihood opportunities will also strengthen the communities’ role as forest stewards.

    A total of 15,000 seedlings of endemic trees were planted in 30 hectares identified as “rainforestation” sites by the communities. Agreements were made with the indigenous people’s organizations and the barangay officials for the unified management and care of planted seedlings. Based on the latest monitoring report, about 1,000 of these seedlings did not survive and were immediately replaced with new ones.

    The project was able to conduct a training on sustainable harvesting of wild honey and Almaciga resin. Community members and representatives attended this training which also included a session on simple bookkeeping and recording. During the last quarter, NATRIPAL conducted ocular inspection of the forest areas in Barangay Sagpangan to determine the presence of wild honey bees and the possible development of bee hives. The team observed that numerous forest tree species are currently on the flowering stage, which is an indicator of honey production in the area. The team also discovered a number of bee hives developing in the area. They also sighted an apis dorsata, a giant honey bee, or “pukyutan” in the area. These signify that honey production and trading may start in this season.

    The project conducted an assessment of Almaciga trees also at Brgy. Sagpangan in Aborlan, Palawan. Three foresters from the Puerto Princesa City Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and one (1) volunteer forester from the community in Sagpangan spearheaded the conduct of the assessment. Based on the results of the assessment, 255 almaciga trees were recorded and geo-tagged within a sampling area of 100 hectares.

    The project conducted the Training Workshop on Wildlife Enforcement for 30 Bantay CADTs (40 percent women). CADT is the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title that secures the tenure of Indigenous Peoples in the lands they live on. The training focused on the procedures on information gathering, proper documentation, seizure of illegal collection of wildlife, and filing of legal cases. The training is a requirement for the deputation of Bantay CADTs as Wildlife Enforcement Officers.