Local empowerment and engagement
Site-based conservation linked to livelihoods and resource use by communities has proved to be the most effective approach for forest IBAs in the Philippines, Cambodia and Nepal.
BirdLife’s Local Engagement and Empowerment Programme focuses on the individuals and organisations that work with BirdLife Partners to deliver conservation, for biodiversity and for people, at the local level. BirdLife Partners in Asia are supporting these Local Conservation Groups with the management, monitoring, development and defence of ‘their’ local Important Bird Areas (IBAs), providing an approach that is rooted in local distinctiveness.
Local Conservation Groups (LCGs) are active at 678 (42%) of Asia’s IBAs, including 147 of Japan’s 166 IBAs, and 296 of India’s 465 sites.
Site-based conservation linked to livelihoods and resource use by communities has proved to be the most effective approach for forest IBAs in the Philippines. At Mt Siburan IBA on Mindoro, hunting, illegal logging and charcoal burning and encroachment for subsistence agriculture have practically stopped since the LCG were given training in bio-intensive gardening, and became involved in “rainforestation” (forest restoration with native tree species) through BirdLife Partner Haribon Foundation’s Integrating Forest Conservation with Local Governance in the Philippines Project.
In Cambodia, which lacks national conservation NGOs, the BirdLife Country Programme has set up 21 LCGs. Members (including farmers, fishermen, commune leaders, forestry and fishery officers and government officials) have drawn up agreements for sustainable resource use, and have been instrumental in winning protected area status for some of Cambodia’s highest priority wetland and forest IBAs.
Bird Conservation Nepal is working with community Forest User Groups at Phulchoki Important Bird Area (IBA) to ensure that local people benefit from the revenues generated by visiting tourists. These funds contribute to forest patrolling and group management costs, but are also used for projects in the villages, including improvements to the roads and school bursaries for children from the poorest households. Here and in Nepal’s 12 other community-managed forest IBAs, community members are involved in Participatory Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation of Biodiversity (PAMEB), which harnesses traditional sources of knowledge, and helps engender a conservation ethos and sense of environmental stewardship.