Haribon Foundation recently conducted a two-day Forest Protection and Law Enforcement Planning (FPLEP) Workshop with the “Bantay Gubat” volunteers from Malinao, Aklan.
The activity is part of the Forest and Climate Protection Panay (ForClim) Project to engage local stakeholders in protecting the Central Panay Mountain Range. The FPLEP will be integrated with the Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) of the municipality to ensure its implementation and sustainability.
On the workshop’s first day, the ForClim team left early morning from San Jose, Antique to the People’s Center in Malinao where the activity was held. The program opened with a speech from Mayor Wilbert Ariel Igoy, who emphasized the need to protect the forest to mitigate the effects of climate change, and tasked the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) to participate in the workshop and incorporate the FPLEP in the Disaster Risk Reduction Plan of the municipality.
Together with the Haribon team, the MDRRMO, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office and Forester Jose Max Caro of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office Kalibo helped the volunteer members of the Bantay Gubat group to formulate their FPLEP.
Before going into the process of formulating their FLEP, the participants discussed and analyzed the present situation of Malinao forest. The State Pressure Response (SPR) Model showed the basic relationship among the pressures Malinao people put on their forests, the resulting condition of their forest, and response of the society to these conditions to ease negative impacts of such pressures.
Discussing the results of the SPR analysis, the participants agreed that there is a decrease in destructive activities within the forest and an increase in forest areas being restored. Forest rehabilitation projects being implemented like the ForClim and the National Greening Program of the DENR, provided alternative income to upland communities.
Even the “4Ps Program” of the government helped families lessen their dependency on the forest for survival. With all these programs, upland communities were discouraged to engage in hunting, kaingin (slash and burn) farming, charcoal making, and timber poaching.
However, there are still illegal activities observed in the forest of Malinao, the reason why the formation of Bantay Gubat in the upland barangays is important. In the workshop, everyone agreed the need to support Bantay Gubat volunteers to protect the forests. One need identified was a decent honorarium, some form of security like health and accident insurance, as well as provision for equipment are needed for them to be effective.
During day two of the workshop, a visioning activity was held to formulate goals for the forest and people of Malinao. Vision development is an important tool for discovering common values and developing a shared sense of purpose. Also formulated was the mission of the Bantay Gubat organization. The mission statement focuses on the present situation and what to do to get to the vision.
By the end of the workshop, the FPLEP of the Bantay Gubat volunteers of Malinao focused on four goals: To form and strengthen the Bantay Gubat organization; to conserve and protect the forest; to develop sustainable livelihood for upland communities; and to be prepared for imminent disasters.
A brief closing program ensued, since the Malinao local government was on alert for the coming Super Typhoon Yolanda. Disaster preparedness supplies and equipment were transported to barangays overseen by Mayor Igoy. Two days before the typhoon, trucks transported sacks of rice and canned goods to communities near the river.