Southeast Asian Nations Conference on Biodiversity 2009

Southeast Asian Nations Conference on Biodiversity 2009

Dr. Rodel Lasco, senior scientist and country program coordinator for the World Agroforestry Centre reported on the unique ecosystem rehabilitation initiatives in the Philippines. Lasco first mentioned the gains of initiatives in Albay province, which is known as an entry point of most tropical cyclones visiting the country. He said that maintaining and restoring the natural infrastructure of the province is a good ecosystem rehabilitation strategy. The rehabilitation initiative encompasses water recharge, clean up of rivers as well as planting of mangrove forests as safety barriers and coastal defense.

Another interesting feature of Lasco’s report is his mentioning of the unique examples of indigenous tribes in the rehabilitation and management of the ecosystem. He revealed that the Ikalahans of Northern Luzon has a food-processing center established since the 1980s. The facility processes products from the wild and has been a regular source of livelihood for the tribe through the years. Lasco also cited the role of policy making in the harvesting of resources, land use classification and the declaration of sanctuary areas in protecting the ecosystem of the location.

The scientist was equally impressed with the muyong, a traditional Ifugao way of tending the forest. A muyong, is a forest holding, which is a source of water for the rice fields. Besides irrigating crops, the muyong prevents soil erosion and is an important source of food, lumber and medicine for the Ifugaos.

The muyong was said to be the secret behind the longevity of the Banawe Rice Terraces.

Finally, Lasco cited Mount Kitanlad in Bukidnon, which is the home of three indigenous tribes namely the Bukidnon, the Higaonon and the Talaandig. He emphasized that Mount Kitanlad is one of the most important biodiversity reserves in the Philippines. Lasco said that the three tribes mentioned are instrumental in maintaining the connectivity of the ecosystems in the area. This was accomplished by enabling indigenous and local communities to look after their own interest regarding access to genetic resources and the integrity of their traditional knowledge systems.

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