P.A. Talk Episode 2 highlights Participation of Local Communities in Protected Area Management

July 22, 2020

In the second episode of PA Talk: Protected Areas for a Protected Future, Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, together with DENR Assistant Secretary and head of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Ricardo Calderon, will bring viewers to the protected areas in the provinces of Antique, Bataan, Bukidnon, Quezon, Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Zamboanga.

For this episode, the featured PAs include three large sites and three small ones. The discussion will introduce viewers to the communities that are living in, relying on and even owning these areas. Are they the culprits of degradation? Or, are they the reason these sites have survived the onslaught of resource extraction and conversion to a single crop agriculture?

Joining Legarda in the hour-long webinar are frontliners in the protection of our natural wealth: DENR’s regional executive directors and protected area superintendents (PASus) as well as representatives from the peoples’ organizations, including our indigenous communities, who help in the management of the six sites.

Samar Island Natural Park, which covers three provinces, is perhaps one of the largest of our protected areas. It is known to be where the Philippine eagle, our national bird, was first recorded and is reputed to have one of the largest karst cave system in the Philippines. Its vast and fertile land especially at the borders is also claimed and occupied by migrants, tenured or otherwise, who have conditional rights to stay, or by private prior rights holders.

The Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park is home to ancestral domain owners who are spiritually connected to the ecosystems. It also hosts our critically endangered Philippine Eagle. With three decades of protected area work, frontliners and indigenous communities within the natural park have harmonized their relationships yet face a continuing challenge in doing so.

The Bataan Natural Park encompasses seven towns of the Province of Bataan and Mt. Natib, a dormant volcano. It hosts the remaining old growth forests in the Zambales Biogeographic Zone and a key biodiversity area. It also constitutes the ancestral domain of the Aeta Magbukun. As it is a hunter/gatherer society, the prescriptions of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) and Certificate of Ancestral Domain (CADT) boundaries are difficult to approximate and there is the continuing threat of expansion and land conversion from increasing populations still unused to the idea of ancestral domains.

Three smaller sites demonstrate an increasing capacity to rely on local residents for conservation and highlight the roles protected areas have to play in a changing climate. The Sibalom Natural Park in Antique, Maulawin Spring Protected Landscape in Quezon and the Pasonanca Natural Park in Zamboanga all represent unique ways of undertaking the daunting task of not just balancing human interests and nature but of learning together that these need not be opposing forces as long as we learn that human interests are deeply intertwined with protecting these areas as sources of human needs.

The Sibalom Natural Park in Antique is a lowland forest which serves as biodiversity corridor for most of the unique species found only in the Central Panay Mountains and Northwest Panay. Maulawin Spring Protected Landscape in Quezon is a major source of potable water for more than 3,000 households in the Municipality of Guinayangan and a destination for ecotourism, research, and environmental education, while Pasonanca Natural Park in Zamboanga City serves as the major source of clean and fresh water for the city’s almost one million residents. It has impressive intact secondary and old growth dipterocarp forests and is a nesting site for various endemic birds, including the recently sighted Philippine Eagle.

Legarda invites everyone to interact with the panelists for the second episode on July 28, 2020 (Tuesday) at 10:00AM, via livestreaming on FB/CongresswomanLorenLegarda and FB/DENRBiodiversity.

PA Talk was launched on the anniversary of the ENipas Law on June 22, 2020. The monthly webinar aims to introduce the most beautiful and biodiversity-rich areas of the country to a wider audience, inviting them to visit and engaging them to help study and protect them.