The Forest Protection and Rehabilitation cum Livelihood Development project with the Indigenous Obu Manuvu of Carmen has been running for nearly three years now. Several milestones have been achieved in terms of forest protection, building local capacities, and enhancing household wellbeing that builds strong commitment from the impoverished Obu-Manuvu community toward conservation goals.
For the past two years of implementation, the 39 Obu-Manuvu forest guards under the management of Forest Protection and Management Committee (FPMC) were able to install a monitoring scheme- a system that integrates scientific knowledge and how the indigenous forest guards traditionally identified healthy forest and wildlife resources They also conducted a regular monthly foot patrols inside their ancestral forest, able to rehabilitate some denuded part of their land and found out some illegal activities such as encroachment, illegal logging, poaching and wildlife hunting of viable species that not just only culturally important to them as part of theirtradition and as food source but also as an indicators of the health of their environment. With the community commitment, passion and drive to protect and rehabilitate their ancestral forests, they also found out that their ancestral forests still contains a promising biodiversity and was recognized as no other community-based project in the country which engage and empower Indigenous forest guards at the scale and extent of forest protection.
From the previous successes, lessons learned and insights gained from previous project implementation, the Euro Generics International Philippines (EGIP) Foundation awarded the third year-phase of the project. This year project will rests on the same foundational assumptions and ultimate goals: that meeting biodiversity conservation and human needs need not to be limited.
The launching was held last February 20, 2015 and primarily participated by the 39 forest guards and 55 families of indigenous community headed by Datu Paulino Landim, their Tribal Chieftain. Representatives also of the six (6) clans of Obu-Manuvu Tribes were also present. EGIP Foundation, NCIP represented by Mr. Eleazar Once and the barangay council of Carmen also graced the launching program.
This report provides details on the launching of the project.
Joshua L. Donato, PEF Forest Protection Officer, provide updates on the last year’s achievements and developments, challenges encountered, lessons learned and insight gained as well as presented the activities for the next phase. In the afternoon, open forum and planning session for the next activities are done.Bae Nilda Landim welcomed all the members of the six (clans) of Obu-Manuvu tribe in Davao City and extended her gratitude to Obu-Manuvu Ancestral Domain Management Office (ADMO), EGIP , NCIP and PEF for continuing the project into third phase. She also explained that they invited all the members of their clans so that they will all get acquainted with the existing project in their community and will know and prepare for whatever future plans for development that involved their tribes. Datu Luis Lambac also shared his excitement and assured their full support for the project and requested the concerned individuals to follow the tribal council protocol and proper coordination is also necessary for every activity. On the other hand, Mr. Eleazar Onceshowed his confident that they will continue their support in behalf of NCIP XI, of as long as the project will continue to promote and protect the rights and wellbeing of the ICCs/IPs of Brgy. Carmen and the recognition of their ancestral domains as well as their rights as mandated under the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) or RA 8371. Ms. Erdee Joy Lao, EGIP representative, recognized the support of all concerned partners and agencies for making the third phase possible and shared also her excitement to star another level of the project. Meanwhile, the Brgy. Council of Brgy. Carmen also expressed their usual support and very thankful for the existence of Obu-Manuvu forest guards who help save their forest and protect the river as part of their watershed management program in their barangay.
For this year phase, PEF staffs are responsible for facilitation work by assisting the community in project implementation. Datu Paulino Landim Sr. and Bae Nilda Landim will be the Indigenous Project Managers who will be trained, engaged and capacitated to oversee, supervise and manage day-to-day project activities at no cost as part of building local capacities for project management. Two promising and young members of the community will also be hired as Indigenous Project Officer to assist the Project Manager with project implementation; one focusing on the environmental management component of the project (i.e. site protection and biodiversity monitoring) while the other will focus on other concerns, such as enterprise development and governance (e.g. Farm development of Karilongan IP farms, Almaciga enterprise and other NTFPs). They are Loreta Lomatag as Indigenous Project Officer for Agriculture/Microenterprise and Jovert Aggas as Indigenous Project Officer for Biodiversity Monitoring and Law Enforcement. They are selected by the community using a set of a priori criteria or qualifications through a consensus and will be under the supervision of the PEF Project Officer. They will be trained by PEF on several aspects of project implementation, with the ultimate goal of him/her becoming a full-time project officer in the near future. This year project will also provide new and additional monitoring equipments such as binoculars, raincoats, rubber boots, uniform (vest) and radio set. Aside from monitoring equipments, a desktop computer will also be provided to the community for documents storage and for making communication letters. They will also receive/renew the life accident insurance granted to them during the first phase.
Another component for this phase is focuses on building governance capacities of the decision-makers and Indigenous project staff. Activities for this component include (i) active coaching by PEF of the Project Managers and the Indigenous project officers during their conduct of project tasks, (ii) facilitating quarterly community assemblies to enhance understanding and participatory decision-making, and (iii) assistance with other issues or affairs that require the interaction of the community with external partners (e.g. report of illegal logging or land-grabbing activities within the domain to proper authorities and effective lobbying for appropriate actions, meaning concrete actions are taken within the project period).
Biodiversity research, monitoring and management are another focus of this year’s phase. This component will focus on two major activities: (i) forest patrols to monitor species and habitats, including illegal activities within the domain and (ii) maintenance of the ancestral domain for cultural/eco-tourism activities. During the last year’s phase, many lessons have been learned both about the status of the biodiversity in the area and the possible areas of modification in the monitoring
protocol. One such modification in the protocol is limiting biodiversity monitoring to quarterly efforts rather than monthly as was done in 2014. This will prevent disturbances and minimize the presence of human in the ancestral forests. Forest patrols will be complemented by the use of conservation drones provided by EGIP Foundation to take video recordings and pin point threat “hotspots” with the domain. These foot patrols will be complemented for effective monitoring
and evaluation using conservation drones. The rest of the months can be spent by the forest guards doing other things such as actively patrolling ‘hot spots’ of timber poaching and land grabbing within the domain, and maintaining trails, observation posts, mark and prepare trails (soft and hard “loop” trails) and camp sites for the eco-tourism venture . A simultaneous monitoring of a released Philippine Eagle named “Matatag” is also being undertaken by two forest guards at a time that assisted the PEF staff assigned in the area. These forest guards can also safeguard and complement effort to prevent destructive activities within the domain.
This component will also provide resources for the filing of appropriate cases against violators apprehended by forest guards. Such resources include assistance with compiling and documenting evidences, private attorney’s fees, and mobilization funds during hearing of cases, among others. To become legitimate law enforcers and para-legal officers, forest guards will be given authorities as Deputized Environment and Natural Resource Officers (DENROs) with assistance from the DENR. PEF with the Indigenous staff will do a follow-up with the DENR of the deputation of the forest guards. Deputized forest guards will also perform their enforcement duties during regular forest patrols and monitoring
Livelihood incentives and innovative conservation financing is another essential components for this phase. This is in response to the unending dilemma of meeting biodiversity conservation and human needs. The project will focus on at least two enterprises that have gained a reputation as being biodiversity friendly: (i) Almaciga resin enterprise and (ii) community-based eco- and cultural tourism which will be managed directly by EGIP Foundation. Enterprise development will follow the standard steps of organizing an enterprise research and development group, feasibility study and value chain analyses, skills and enterprise management training and pilot-testing of the enterprise. Furthermore, the project will continue to facilitate farm development in Karilongan. They are required to produce 10,000 agro forestry seedlings to supplement their income source in the future. Part also of the design of these enterprises is the voluntary allotment of a certain percentage of the income to a conservation fund that will be used to sustain management activities within conservation sites. Such scheme will be stipulated in Conservation Agreements between the Obu-Manuvucommunity, EGIP and PEF. One of the possible and viable sources of sustainable conservation funding is the establishment of an Almaciga resin enterprise within the Obu Manuvu ancestral domain. A formal (yet cost-effective) Feasibility Study (FS) will be undertaken on this year phase.
Capacity building is another component for this project. In building organizational capacity, Participatory Action Research (PAR) will be employed to address not just only the concrete needs (i.e. building capacity for good governance) of the community but also it is a co-learning activity between the community and project facilitators to further understand the nuances of environmental governance at the Indigenous grassroots level.Basic and necessarytraining will also be provided such as (i) process documentation, (ii) project monitoring and evaluation systems, (iii) basic leadership training, and (iv) cooperative strengthening, among others through a pragmatic, ‘hands-on’ approach to building capacities for organizational governance.
Below are the priority activities for first quarter of the project:
- Purchase of new and additional monitoring equipments such as binoculars, raincoats, rubber boots, and radio set.
- Purchase desktop computer and processing of life accident insurance for indigenous forest guards.
- Collect the farm plans from the 55 members of Obu-Manuvu community and identify the agro forestry seedlings to be produce in nursery.
- Selections of nursery in Karilongan near the IP farms that will cater/produce 10,000 agro forestry seedlings.
- Identify possible areas for monitoring and pin point threat “hotspots” within the ancestral domain forest.
- Conduct first quarter forest patrols to monitor species and habitats, including illegal activities within the ancestral domain forest.
- Training need analysis for Indigenous project managers and project officers.
- Follow-up with the NCIP and DENR of the deputation of the forest guards.
- Start a formal (yet cost-effective) Feasibility Studyabout Almaciga resin enterprise within the Obu Manuvu ancestral domain.
- File an appropriate case against violators (e.g., .recent illegal logging activities along Panigan River reported by Bae Nilda Landim) apprehended by forest guards.
We would like to extend our gratitude to Datu Paulino Landim, to the officers of FPMC, to the 38 forest guards and to the 55 families of Obu-Manuvu community. We are likewise indebted to UnifiedObu Manuvu Tribal Council of Elders/Leaders, Ancestral Domain Management Office (ADMO), NCIP and the Brgy. Council of Brgy. Carmen for their continued support for the project and to EGIP for funding another year of project implementation.
Joshua L. Donato and Jayson C. Ibañez
Philippine Eagle Foundation
Philippine Eagle Center
Malagos, Baguio District, 8000