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Monday, September 28, 2015

Talama: Rewarding the unheralded heroes of conservation

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 25 Feb) – Since its proclamation as a national park in 1990, and later as a full-fledged protected area in 2000 through Republic Act 8978, timber smuggling and other illegal activities have been minimized, if not stopped, in Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park. Many would attribute the conservation of the park’s forest to formal mechanisms such as the Protected Area Management Board, which always takes pride in this achievement.
Little has been said however of the efforts of local communities, the indigenous peoples in particular, in protecting one of the country’s important biodiversity sites, which sits in the northwestern part of Bukidnon province. And they have received too little too in terms of rewards and incentives for such efforts. Not much has been said about the role of culture in the conservation of Mount Kitanglad, and how the tribes had tried to resist commercial logging in the years prior to the imposition of logging ban in the province. In a study made in 1995, Malcolm Cairns explained the link between culture and conservation in this ancestral territory that its inhabitants consider sacred.
Efforts have been made in recent years to recognize the contribution of the indigenous peoples to environmental protection. In Mount Kitanglad its palpable manifestation includes the participation of their leaders in decision and policymaking through the PAMB and programs that aim to uplift their socioeconomic conditions. These have been found wanting; the socioeconomic interventions in particular have not really made an impact mainly because these did not consider cultural factors and did not match the capacity and experience of the intended targets.
Nonetheless, the indigenous peoples or Lumad of Mount Kitanglad believe they deserve more for their efforts. This time they are not entertaining the idea of receiving yet again a form of assistance based on standards prescribed by donors, be they private entities or government agencies. They are pushing for the adoption of a culture-based system that views their efforts as deserving of a reward. Is there such a system? - From


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