The US Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAid), through its Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program, awarded a P2.8 million grant to the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs, Inc. (KIN) to document traditional systems, knowledge and best practices in order to conserve biodiversity and manage natural resources within the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park.
The grant will facilitate the first attempt to document the customs and traditional management systems of the Talaandig, Bukidnon and Higaonon ethnic groups in the 47,270-hectare Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park. These indigenous practices have contributed considerably to Mt. Kitanglad’s stature as a protected area and as an Asean Heritage Park. The results of the documentation will be presented to the Kitanglad Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) for adoption and will be shared with other indigenous communities and to the public.
“I would like our customs and traditions to be documented so that our children and their children will learn to appreciate what we have done and will know what to do when it comes to sustainably managing our ancestral domains, working with other stakeholders in Mt.Kitanglad,” explained Chief of the Mt. Kitanglad Council of Elders Datu Makapukaw Adolino Saway.
Datu Makapukaw and the majority of members of the ethnic groups have been serving as Kitanglad Guard Volunteers (KGVs) for more than 20 years. With their help, Mt. Kitanglad isable to maintain net forest gain status of 530 hectares a year. The Mt. Kitanglad PAMB is aiming to attain zero forest loss by the end of 2017. USAid is helping KGVs, the Tribal Council of Elders, and the PAMB achieve this goal by introducing an innovative approach in the management of Protected Areas and other natural areas.
Called Lawin, or the Landscape and Wildlife Indicators, the system uses an Android application and open source software to analyze data from field observations, which will enable timely response to observed threats to natural forests and help inform the management strategy for the protection of forests. The program is implemented in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in seven Protected Areas and watersheds in the country, including the Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park.
US Embassy Manila’s USAid and the City Government of Zamboanga signed a new partnership that will allow residents to pay government taxes and fees anytime, anywhere using electronic channels.