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Brgy-based strategies to preserve Mt. Isarog protected areas mulled

By Jason B. Neola

NAGA CITY — The Mt. Isarog Guardians (MIGs) commissioned by the city government here to preserve the flora and fauna at Mt. Isarog Natural Park (MINP) came together to draw up plans that will spare the highland from poaching and treasure hunting.

One way to do it is to provide offenders and would-be offenders with livelihood opportunities.

The idea came up during presentations in a workshop by 42 forest protectors which include barangay officials and barangay tanod (watchmen) whose villages are within the coverage of the protected areas of this city and the neighboring town of Calabanga.

The Guardians

THE GUARDIANS of the protected areas covering the Mt. Isarog Natural Park outline various strategies that will help protect the highland from illegal activities. JASON B. NEOLA

The workshop, which was undertaken during the training on community-based resource protection program (CBRPP) last April 21-22, this year, in Barangay Panicuason, here, also addressed other illegal activities taking place at the site like cutting of trees, charcoal-making, and collection of honey, wherein the harvesters drive off the bees by setting up fire to produce smoke that oftentimes resulted in razing endemic plants to the ground.

The CBRPP is an action program that locals undergo to address their own environmental resource concerns. The significance of a community-based approach is that people work together to develop plans and goals without anyone compelling them to do so.

It was conducted thru the efforts of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) of the city government of Naga.

The community-based forest caretakers also revealed during the training-workshop that illegal logging, practice of kaingin system, and the planting of abaca that badly affects the growth of other endemic plants.

Persistence of environmental abuse in the protected site can be traced to the lack of support by the LGUs and their non-participation in a collective effort being spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to save the natural park from abuse and other illegal activities.

Mayor John G. Bongat said the city government is “more than willing to help in providing the residents involved in such activities with alternative means to earn a living by way of identifying appropriate sponsors or funding sources to help finance certain livelihood projects for them.”

Oscar Orozco, city environment and natural resources officer, said they have a number of partner agencies that can collaborate with the city government to undertake projects wherein they can be hired. These agencies include GIZ, a German development agency, the Asian Development Bank and the Climate Change Commission, among others.

With regards to honey collectors within the park, CBSUA Professor Aries Ativo, who was CBRPP resource speaker, said that his school can also be of help to them as it engages in the mass production of harmless honeybees.

Day 2 of the activity was about biodiversity monitoring system (BMS) which aims to improve the information available in protected areas through regular collecting of data on natural biological resources and other utilization.

In his lecture, MINP Protected Area Supt. Armando Omolida said biodiversity in Philippine protected areas encompasses thousands of lifeforms, many of them not even named and described. “It is impossible to monitor all of these and the biodiversity of a protected area will remain almost the same as long as no large-scale habitat changes take place.”

He said that if habitat changes do take place, this will probably be the result of human activity.