Without local people, this project would not be possible. We depend on communities and local groups to act as the eyes and ears on the forest floor, documenting changes in the forest through local monitoring programmes and enforcement. That’s why it’s crucial to make the link between local people and the decisions made about their forests.
This method works. In early 2017 in Gabaldon, the Philippines, project partner the Haribon Foundation linked villagers and community leaders to local forest wardens and officials. This catalysed a dialogue, which resulted in over 8,000 hectares of forest being one-step closer to becoming a legally protected area. The forest isn’t the only thing that benefits.
“By protecting Mount Minigan, we are also protecting the future of Gabaldon and its people,” says Noel Resurreccion, Haribon Foundation Project Manager.
We will be working alongside local communities at all of our key landscapes. Here are just a few examples of the key players whose vital input we will be relying upon throughout the project:
Belum-Temenggor Forest Complex, Malaysia
The forests of Belum-Temenggor are home to 2,000-3,000 indigenous peoples (Orang Asli) of Jahai and Temiar tribes, who have lived there for generations. Their livelihood depends heavily on the collection of non-timber forest produce such as wild honey, agarwood, rattan, and medicinal plants. Most villages also plant rubber to supplement their income. In addition, some villagers are involved in nature tourism as guides or porters, or undertake odd jobs at Pulau Banding jetty or Gerik town.
The Orang Asli community plays an integral part in the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS)’s conservation of these rich forests. The MNS Hornbill Conservation Project works with Orang Asli villagers by nurturing and mentoring them to be Hornbill Guardians in their landscape. MNS provides training and resources to annually search, locate, and monitor hornbill nests and conduct seasonal population counts of the migratory Plain-pouched Hornbills. By involving local indigenous peoples in hornbill conservation and forest resource monitoring, MNS is making a valuable contribution to Malaysia’s National Policy on Biological Diversity – Target 2.
Mount Irid-Angelo, The Philippines
The indigenous Dumagat people, belonging to the Agta-Negrito group, inhabit the forests of Mount Irid-Angelo. In the past, they lived in coastal areas. However, they were later pushed by development and Spanish colonisation from the lowlands into the mountains to live a semi-nomadic lifestyle.
The Dumagat people make a living from hunting and gathering forest products. They also practice subsistence farming, cultivating crops like cassava and rice. The Haribon Foundation is actively engaging indigenous Dumagat communities in sustainable livelihood activities and training as Bantay Gubat, or Forest Wardens, to protect their lands.
Torricelli Mountain Range, Papua New Guinea
The Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA) works directly with 13,000 people from 50 villages situated at the southern foothills of the Torricelli Mountain Range, Papua New Guinea. The communities consist of 10 different language and cultural groups, with Melanesian Pidgin English being the most commonly used. Traditionally a hunter-gatherer society, globalisation and modernisation have shifted communities to subsistence agriculture, with cocoa and vanilla as the primary crops. TCA has worked with the villages to stop hunting species such as the Golden-mantled Tree Kangaroo, allowing populations to recover.
The communities are currently faced with making tough environmental and development decisions concerning their land, which is owned entirely by the local people (rather than the Government, which is often the case). The Tenkile Conservation Alliance assists communities in making informed and sustainable decisions for managing their forest landscape that maximise the wellbeing of their communities, while protecting the rich biodiversity.
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