From July 20 to 22 Haribon, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), and several communities from General Nakar, Quezon worked together to further educate the community on forest preservation and the importance of their support for the Philippine Eagle research.
The Philippine Eagle lives in the “backyard” of the General Nakar community and acts as a barometer to the health of the very resource that sustains them: a patch of forest belonging to the Philippines’ largest mountain range, the Sierra Madre.
Haribon biologist Kevin Artiaga from Haribon’s Research Department and Nove Calawigan from Community Development led a small group composed of Haribon staff and volunteers to the three-day community project in General Nakar. Together with DENR’s Anson Tagtag, project leader of the Philippine Raptor Conservation Program (PRCP) and his fellow team members from DENR, a Philippine Eagle exhibit was set up as the group participated in General Nakar’s foundation day parade providing information, material, and resources to local communities there.
Nove Calawigan of Haribon has been working with the General Nakar community for years, organizing and working side-by-side with them in creating programs that help people protect the patch of forest in their domain. On the day of General Nakar’s foundation day parade, Calawigan and Artiaga provided General Nakar community members with special “community monitoring group” shirts that act not only as a source of pride for what they do, but also as an awareness campaign in itself. Haribon also gave them a re-usable banner they will be using for environment-themed events, while Marivic Pajaro of Haribon’s research department spoke during the foundation day festivities on July 21.
Anson Tagtag of DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau is project leader of the Philippine Raptor Conservation Program. He dressed up as a Philippine Eagle during the parade, attracting photos from adults and cheers from children, providing us added exposure for our advocacy from parade on-lookers. His team contributed to the Philippine Eagle exhibit a set of beautiful photos by Klaus Nigge, as well as a preserved Philippine Eagle named Laila who had passed away in captivity after having been rescued. Fortunately, Laila’s service went on as she attracted people of all ages to the booth.
Haribon membership hard at work
Haribon volunteers Cza, Ena and Nat, led by Luke Imbong of Haribon’s membership division provided crucial support during the set-up of both the Philippine Eagle exhibit and the Facebook “liking booth” in the municipal hall of General Nakar.
Members also participated during the biodiversity lesson headed by Imbong at a local elementary school as well as poster-making activities for high school students during General Nakar’s Environment Day on Monday, July 22nd.
General Nakar is one of Haribon Foundations long time project sites, with strong connections with the LGU and other local stakeholders. Also, the PEP-Philippine Eagle is one of Haribon Foundations’ current projects and focuses on a charismatic flagship species. This activity was therefore a good opportunity to expose Haribon members to the work that staff are doing, as well as raise their awareness to the plight of our iconic national bird.
The market area was full of people attracted to the booths that provided everything from fresh fruit, to art created by children headed by a group of youth called “Pinta”.
One of the booths featured “cinantol” (also spelled with an “s” instead of a “c”) that is derived from cooked shavings of a popular local fruit we know as “santol”. What many don’t know is that santol comes from Sandoricum koetjape, a tree native to the Philippines whose decoction of its leaves are used to treat fevers.
A bird’s eye view of biodiversity conservation
Haribon Foundation is currently implementing the Preventing Extinctions Programme for the Philippine Eagle (PEP-Philippine Eagle) to promote forest biodiversity conservation in the municipality of General Nakar, Quezon province. This project, funded by the Swedish Ornithological Society (Svergies Ornitologiska Forenig-SOF) through Birdlife, and by Toyota Foundation Japan, has two main thrusts. First, it aims to conduct research on the Philippine Eagle in the Mt. Irid-Mt. Angelo Important Bird Area, a large portion of which is situated in General Nakar, and second, it aims to raise awareness of Philippine Eagles and their conservation to local communities and other stakeholders to gain support for its protection.
Haribon Foundation has been doing conservation work in General Nakar since 2005, undertaking several projects. The Golden Forests project in 2005 to 2011 was focused on preventing deforestation and encouraging sustainable forest management. The New Conservation Areas of the Philippines Project (NEWCAPP) started in 2010 to 2012 involved establishing conservation areas in General Nakar outside of the slower process of protected area declaration via the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1922.
Working with the LGU and communities of General Nakar for such a long time has led to the establishment of many strong relationships between the people and Haribon, which gives us an opportunity to do more for conservation of the Mt. Irid-Angelo like we did this week.
Haribon, PAWB and General Nakar worked together to make sure people from all walks of life were enlightened, as well as entertained, by the information we had brought with us about the treasures General Nakar held in its forests. The people of General Nakar, as well its neighboring municipality Infanta, had not only showed us warm hospitality, but gave us the treasures of their cuisine, culture, heritage, history, and more. This past weekend not only helped further galvanize sustainable relationships between people from different places and outlooks, but also between people and the forests that sustain us all.