Aknowledging that there is an urgent need for greater and intensified cooperation to address some of the biggest threats to the country’s biodiversity, the Strengthening National Systems to Improve Governance and Management of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Conserved Areas and Territories Project (Philippine ICCA Project) recently teamed up with the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) to complement and strengthen each Project’s conservation efforts.
In a meeting held at the H100 Eco Lodge in Baguio City on May 3, 2017, stakeholders of the Philippine ICCA Project and INREMP convened to discuss plans and strategies to coordinate and harmonize similar efforts and activities, particularly in Tinglayan, Kalinga, a common site of both projects. The overarching theme of the discussion centered on avoiding duplication of efforts and confusion among communities given that both projects overlap in geographic coverage and objectives.
Meanwhile, one angle of cooperation that was looked at was the possibility for INREMP to extend financial support to the Philippine ICCA Project to fund activities such as community meetings, mapping, resource inventory, and planning, among others.
As a background, the Philippine ICCA Project is a four-year program that seeks to recognize the efforts of indigenous peoples (IP) in protecting the environment and conserving local biological diversity. On the other hand, INREMP aims to manage the upper river basins and component watersheds of the country by working with local government units, institutions, and upland communities.
More effective management of resources through traditional practices
One of the speakers at the meeting was Mr. Giovanni Reyes, convener of the ICCA Consortium (BUKLURAN) and member of the Global Environment Facility – Indigenous Peoples Advisory Group. In his discussion of the IPs’ traditional and spiritual way of conservation, he shared that some indigenous peoples’ communities designate zones for settlements, hunting, and rituals. This would mean that an animal that entered a ritual site cannot be hunted. This practice has indirectly contributed to the conservation of animal species in the area.
Mr. Reyes pointed out the effectiveness of indigenous knowledge, systems, and practices (IKSPs) in biodiversity conservation. Citing studies from the World Bank (2009) and the Center for International Forestry Research, he emphasized that “traditional resource management practices by indigenous communities are more effective in protecting forests than in strict protected zones by the government” and that “levels of forest destruction are higher in areas that have been declared as strict protection zone by the government compared to the traditional conserved areas by the ICs.”
Regional Inter-Agency Committee
On May 4, 2017, the first Philippine ICCA Project in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) Regional Inter-Agency Committee (RIAC) meeting was held in the DENR-CAR Regional Office to plan for the upcoming activities of the project. Attended by the local officials of Ifugao, regional officials of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and representatives of local communities, the meeting was incidentally the first RIAC assembly among all the Philippine ICCA Project sites. (Gabriela G. Baron; Philippine ICCA Project PMU)