The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) featured three of its foreign-assisted projects under the forestry sector in a knowledge-sharing forum of lessons learned, good practices, innovations and success stories (LGIS).

Organized by the Foreign-Assisted and Special Projects Service (FASPS), the three-episode forum themed, "Addressing forest degradation through natural resources management: The Negros and Panay Island Experience" was held in Region 6 and live streamed via Zoom and the DENR’s official Facebook page on November 8-10, 2022.

This is the fourth LGIS forum put together by FASPS since 2018 and it has been serving as a venue to showcase the experiences of foreign-assisted project implementers, managers, development partners and local stakeholders for public awareness.

Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones recognized the forum as “a reflection of the DENR’s aspiration to become a learning organization that is equipped in generating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, as well as modifying its approach to reflect new knowledge.”

“This forum demonstrated the DENR’s commitment to involve all stakeholders, implementers and development partners to lay the groundwork for innovations, collaborations and solutions,” said FASPS Director Al Orolfo.

The first episode of the forum featuring the Forest and Climate Protection Project in Panay - Phase II (ForClim II) tackled local subsidy contracts with the local government unit (LGU) on forest protection.

Reportedly, a total of 2,214 hectares of established plantations have been protected through Bantay Gubat, which was organized by the LGU through the project.

ForClim II also paved the way for the creation of two resolutions: one, on the adoption of the ten-year Forest Land Use Plan, and another on declaring four upland barangays as a critical habitat area of the municipality of Ibajay in Aklan province.

The second episode focused on the various natural resource management modalities used in Panay and Negros islands to rehabilitate their forests through the Community-Based Forest and Mangrove Management Project in Negros and Panay (CBFMMP).

A notable one is CBFMMP’s Rattan modality in the municipality of Carles in Iloilo, which is considered to have paved the way for the declaration and legislation of the 283-hectare Sicogon Island Wildlife Sanctuary under Republic Act 11933. Sicogon Island has been established as Carles’ rattan plantation site as part of CBFMMP’s forest and mangrove rehabilitation component.

Overall, the implementation of the project in its target areas in Regions 6 and 7 has resulted in the establishment and maintenance of 6,827 hectares of agroforestry, assisted natural regeneration, mangrove, rattan, and reforestation areas for production and protection purposes.

The third episode featured the Forestland Management Project (FMP) which adopted community-based forest management strategies aimed at integrating conservation and development-oriented activities in the project’s targeted areas.

Testimonies from members of local POs revealed that their community was rebel-infested and quite hard to reach. Consequently, trade and access to economic and social services including medical services were limited.

Moreover, Kaingin was a major source of livelihood for many and locals perceived FMP and DENR projects in general as threats. They feared the government will take away their land as well as their source of livelihood.

FMP was able to encourage voluntary participation of these hesitant communities due to effective information, education and communication or IEC campaign and other interventions such as establishment of tree and agroforestry plantations, provision of agroforestry support facilities, construction of farm-to-market roads, enterprise development, and capacity-building activities.

The project stakeholders saw the vision of FMP and the true purpose of DENR projects which is to boost collaborations among DENR, LGUs, and people’s organizations, and empower local communities to become self-sufficient in generating sustainable income, while also capacitating them and igniting their determination to protect their environment and natural resources.

One of the highlights of the episode is the testimony of a former “kaingero” or slash-and-burn farmer who changed his ways and became a participant and beneficiary of the project.

Orolfo expressed his appreciation of the success stories shared by the project resource persons, as these can serve as valuable inputs to the creation of geospatial maps of the region.

The recorded livestream of the entire forum is available on the DENR’s official Facebook page. ###