"I have never before had this kind of community dialogue where I got to understand the different programmes of our local government, and how we can take action together. Thank you for hearing us out.” – Dado Pagaragan, President of the Senior Citizen’s Group, Barangay Ligaya
Without local people, this project would not be possible. We depend on communities to act as the eyes and ears on the forest floor, documenting changes in the forest in real time through local monitoring programmes. That’s why it’s crucial to make the link between local people and the decisions made about their forests.
Gabaldon community members and government staff map important habitats © Haribon Foundation
This method has already been proven to work. In early 2017 in Gabaldon, the Phillipines, our 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 getting one step closer to becoming a legally protected area. And it’s not just the forest 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-Temengor Forest Complex, Malaysia
The forests of Belum-Temengor are home to about 2,000-3,000 indigenous peoples (called 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. They are provided with the training and resources 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 to Target 2 of Malaysia’s National Policy on Biological Diversity.
Mount Irid-Angelo, The Phillipines
The forests of Mount Irid-Angelo are inhabited by the indigenous Dumagat people, who belong to the Agta-Negrito group. 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.
These days, the Dumagat people live in permanent settlements and make a living from hunting and gathering of forest products. They also practice subsistence farming, cultivating crops like cassava and in some cases rice. Through its conservation projects in the Irid-Angelo landscape, the Haribon Foundation has actively engaged indigenous Dumagat communities in its outreach activities.
Toricelli Mountain Range, Papua New Guinea
The Tenkile Conservation Alliance 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 ten different language and cultural groups, with Melanesian Pidgin English as the most commonly used language today. Traditionally a hunter-gatherer society, with the introduction of globalisation and modernisation communities have shifted to subsistence agriculture, with cocoa and vanilla as the primary cash crops.
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 more usually the case). The Tenkile Conservation Alliance assists communities in making informed decisions that maximise the wellbeing of their communities, and allow them their own freedom of choice as they advance into the 21st century.
People living within the Mbeliling landscape, in West Manggarai District of Flores, Indonesia, are stewards of both protected forests and production forests upon which their livelihoods depend. Living across 27 villages within the project landscape, residents maintain agroforests, rice fields and livestock. These community-managed forests are a vital refuge to species such as the globally-threatened Flores Scops-owl, whilst the spectacular Komodo dragon inhabits the nearby savannah.
Burung Indonesia has worked with the 27 Mbeliling villages to present visions for land use and livelihood development that fit each individual village’s needs. Over four years, the agreements succeeded in protecting forested areas and securing legal recognition of non-timber forest produce harvesting as a key part of livelihood development. Going forward, the project aims to protect forest areas, enhance agricultural productivity and empower communities.
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