20 Mar 2019

Empowering local people for better forest governance

The tropical forests of Asia and the Western Pacific are havens to an astounding wealth and variety of life, much of it found nowhere else. Regional Project Manager Hum Gurung explains how BirdLife's Forest Governance project is helping to empower local communities to preserve these areas.

© Muzhik/Shutterstock
By Hum Gurung

More than 154 million hectares of globally important Biodiversity hotspots are contained in just four countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. Many of these sites are recognised as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) – locations it’s vital to protect if the world’s diversity of life is to continue.  However, these forests are under human pressure due to unsustainable management practices and weak enforcement of laws. Human populations are growing rapidly. Farmland is expanding and clearing vast swathes of forest. The most immediate threats are illegal logging, mining and rural road construction.

To help combat these threats BirdLife International,  funded by the European Union, is leading a five-year (2017-2021) Forest Governance Project in these countries. The project aims to have BirdLife Partners in Asia — including Burung Indonesia, Haribon Foundation, Malaysian Nature Society, and Tenkile Conservation Alliance in Papua New Guinea — empower local people so they can have more control over forest governance and conservation. Here are what the different groups have been doing so far.

Burung Indonesia has been working with the Provincial Forestry Agency, Regional Planning and Development Agency, and Forest Management Unit to develop and strengthen Forest Law Enforcement, Governance & Trade (FLEGT) and community-based monitoring implementation in West Manggarai, Flores, Indonesia.

The Malaysian Nature Society has been continuing hornbill monitoring and training activities at Central Forest Spine (CFS) and Heart of Borneo (HoB).

The Haribon Foundation has established partnership with local NGOs, Community-based Organisations, and academics to advocate for forest governance. It continues to recognize indigenous people’s rights and collaborates with the Philippines’ main environmental government office, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA), partnered with the University of PNG GIS/Remote Sensing Centre (UPNG), have been continuing their collaboration work with local communities and the provincial governments of the Torricelli Mountain Range on forest governance and monitoring activities. The Centre for International Development & Training (CIDT) has been providing forest governance training to all national project partners as part of the capacity building of project stakeholders.

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