The USAID Protect Wildlife project continues to support southern Palawan communities in their agroforestry and conservation agriculture activities in and around the Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape and its surrounding forestlands. This comes at a fitting time when they need to boost their local livelihoods to cope with the economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, while also contributing to increased forest cover in their forestlands and protected area.
Since June 2020, around 1,240 participants from the municipalities of Bataraza, Brooke’s Point, Rizal, and Sofronio Española have been trained on site preparation, planting, management, and maintenance of fruit trees and vegetables, while taking note of sustainable and biodiversity-friendly farming practices. Prior to this, in 2019, around 600 farmers had already been trained and engaged by Protect Wildlife to plant 44,000 durian seedlings in approximately 400 hectares of forestland.
This year, the project aims to expand its agroforestry and conservation agriculture efforts by including upland communities inside the Mount Mantalingahan Protected Landscape and training 1,500 households from 50 barangays in southern Palawan to establish home gardens intercropped with fruit trees and vegetables. Aside from durian seedlings, Protect Wildlife has been distributing 120,000 seedlings of lanzones and rambutan trees to community beneficiaries since July 2020.
With these efforts, USAID’s Protect Wildlife hopes to demonstrate how proper management and zoning of forestlands and protected areas, and promotion of nature-based livelihoods can stimulate economic benefits for rural households and indigenous communities, and at the same time restore forest cover, especially in critical watersheds and wildlife habitats. (PWP/May Anne Ramos)