US gov’t wants to document how tribal folk preserve Mt. Kitanglad
DAVAO CITY—The efforts and practices of the indigenous peoples of Bukidnon in preserving the forest cover in their areas have caught Washington’s eye.
The US government was impressed at how effective the indigenous ways implemented by the Bukidnons, Talaandigs and Higaonons to protect Mt. Kitanglad that it now wanted to document it for possible replication in other areas of the country.
In its words, the US Embassy in Manila said through the indigenous practices of the Lumad communities in Mt. Kitanglad, they were able to maintain net forest gain status of 530 hectares a year.
As to how they did it, that was what the US government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), wanted to document.
But what was certain was that the Talaandig, Bukidnon and the Higaonon tribes depended on “traditional systems, knowledge and best practices to conserve the biodiversity of Mt. Kitanglad,” the US Embassy said in a statement issued on Thursday.
In August, it said the US government has released P2.8 million under USAID’s Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program to the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs, Inc. to document how the Bukidnons, the Talaandigs and the Higaonons relied on their customs and tradition to manage the resources of Mt. Kitanglad—the country’s fourth highest mountain at 2,899 meters above sea level.
“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,” the US Embassy statement said.
Datu Makapukaw Adolino Saway, chief of the Mt. Kitanglad Council of Elders, said one secret could be the collective effort among the indigenous peoples themselves, such as volunteering to guard Mt. Kitanglad from destructive activities.
Majority of members of the ethnic groups, he said, have been working as Kitanglad Guard Volunteers for more than 20 years now.
The Protected Area Management Board said with the help of the indigenous communities, it was hopeful that it would attain zero forest loss in Mt. Kitanglad by 2017.
The US Embassy said the documentation of how the indigenous communities of Bukidnon were doing it would help in the campaign against deforestation as it can be replicated in other parts of the country. Allan Nawal/RAM