1. General Strategy
The approach strategies to effective ADSDPP implementation points to the paramount objectives of protecting the environment and the natural resource base as well as a conservative and judicious utilization of these resources. The overall strategy adopted is based on a concept of an “agriculture and forest ecological zones (AFEZ)” between the remaining primary and/or residual forests and areas of multiple use and human settlements. This is a modification of the “buffer zone” strategy which consists of graduated circles of protection around the agro-forest ecological zones (AFEZ) which generally corresponds to increasing slopes and ecological vulnerability.
Because no amount of fencing could protect the remaining forests from human activities that are deemed destructive and thus threaten its conservation, a “social fencing” strategy becomes an appropriate measure for its protection. Social fencing encompasses a concerted effort among the satellite communities (barangays/sitios) immediately adjacent the forest zones to protect the same areas belonging to them. This comes particularly handy in view of the fact that ownership of the domain exclusively belongs to the indigenous people and the usufruct rights to the utilization of resources therein emanates from them. This right to exclusion further emphasizes the reality that virtually no one but the same village people could care enough to protect their own lands and forest environment.
Unlike the implementation of programs adopting similar strategy in non-IP communities that bestows utilization rights under the concept of stewardship, the resource users, in particular, the forest stewards lack a genuine feeling of the concept of owners thus affects the full integrity of their conservation efforts. More often than not, their domicile is always confronted by misapprehensions that their efforts will only be for naught if the real owners –that is– government would at any time cause their eviction from the place they have fought so hard to protect.
In view of the conventional form of governance (presence of LGUs) already in place and the level of convenience that the community has developed in acculturation thereto without giving off their traditional or customary leadership structures, the integrated approach to community development becomes necessary. For purposes of administrative representation, the indigenous people’s community shall be represented by the Indigenous Peoples Organization (IPO) to co-operate with the local government units. In this way, the IPO shall harmonize their development agenda with the LGUs while the LGUs shall complement the development programs of the IPO, which also applies either way in terms of governance. A clear delineation of roles through a memorandum of agreement however is strongly encouraged.
A working model developed for watershed management zoning in the Palawan Integrated Environmental Plan and was adopted by DENR for CBENRM Project sites in all provinces throughout the Cordillera identifies three levels of use in the buffer zone: 1) restricted use in areas directly around the forest; 2) controlled use at the intermediate area before 3) traditional use areas, referring to upland agriculture and forest products gathering areas.
For ADSDPP, a parallel model was developed with strategies for its implementation in the respective AFEZ zones, as follows:
a. Containment of Resource Use within each AFEZ Zone
The activities that will be allowed in the restricted use areas, controlled use areas and traditional use areas are well defined and planned. Where the boundaries become hazy, the danger of encroachment towards areas needing control and protection would arise. To preclude such instances, the council of elders should intervene to enforce its forest protection policies as may be consistent with the effective implementation of the ADSDPP.
b. Regeneration of Forest Resources
Bokod has barely recovered from an unfortunate experience on the exploitation of its forestlands by logging operators that left behind a depleted resource base. The vegetation that can now be seen in some parts of the residual forests has sprung from natural regeneration as characteristic and typical of pine forest stands. However, a considerable portion has been so degraded while the pioneer species in some areas were not able to restore the biota to its once pristine conditions, which is perhaps attributed to its disturbed physical conditions thus affecting the hydrologic and edaphic structures.
This dreary condition of the environment underscores the immediate need for regeneration. The designation of steeper slopes to regenerative interventions such as reforestation and agroforestry especially assisted natural regeneration (ANR) thus provide the basis for a systematic programming of public resources for this matter.
c. Reduction of Population Pressure
Sufficient evidence and indicators have shown that the perennial threat to further encroachment and deeper penetration into the forests is attributed to upland farming. Shrinkage in farm hectares as a direct result of population growth reduces the size of arable land per inhabitant at the average. The increasing population in need of food resources aggravated by the diminishing productivity levels of existing upland farms presents the rationale for increasing the size of workable farms thus the unabated clearing of new areas in the forest.
In the AFFEZ strategy, emphasis is made on the development of sustainable production systems and livelihood opportunities in traditional use areas and in other settled areas. Rural industries will also be developed primarily focused on an added value on prevailing or to be generated raw materials as well as for providing employment. This will not only contain the population of these areas but will also draw out those who have made new clearings or have already encroached deeper into the forest.
d. Forest Protection
Predisposed by an imprint of witnessing the “ecological rape” of its vast forest lands and ripped off powers to defend or protect it from destructive exploitation, the IP communities of Bokod have virtually been relegated to take on a passive stance on forest protection as may be consistent with its indigenous knowledge systems and practices (IKSP) on natural resources management. Subsequently, with the long denied recognition of their ancestral rights to ownership of their ancestral domain, the people of Bokod can hardly believe that at long last, they can now take hold of a title to their territory as the IPRA provides.
A motivational factor thus envisioned by the ADSDPP for forest protection is the promotion of a strong sense of ownership rights over the forest resource among members of the IP community. Experience would prove that the problem on effective forest protection is too socially ingrained and is beyond solution by the formal enforcement procedures of government. A motivated community, on the other hand, can develop its collective resolve to renew and protect the forest resource base.
The AFEZ concept will thus be implemented as both a physical-spatial and social strategy, where community action is considered a key factor in the effectiveness of the delineated eco-management zones. A precondition however, to effective community involvement is capacitation and empowerment through cultural regeneration and livelihood development. Thus, the interventions are geared towards a two-pronged objective: on human resource and institutional aspects on the one hand and on production-protection on the other.
The development stages of the ADSDPP are guided by the following characteristics:
1st Stage: Human-Income Development which emphasizes cultural regeneration and livelihood development within the high hills (500-1,000 m asl) to low mountain (1,000-1,500 m asl) eco-management zones (< 25% slope);
2nd Stage: Production-Protection Interventions during which integrated agroforestry, forestry and livestock raising is promoted in the mid-mountain (1,500-2,000 m asl) eco-management zones (19-30% slope); and
3rd Stage: Community Buffering and social fencing – where watershed rehabilitation and protection (>2,000 m asl or >30% slope) by the IPO will be intensified and the immediately adjacent communities as stakeholders shall be the guardian of their respective forest areas.