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Thousands of people benefit from community-based forest management program

By Mar S. Arguelles

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 26 – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said in the Bicol region, there are now 116 Community-Based Forest Management Agreements (CBFMAs) covering 49,080 hectares with 116 people’s organizations benefiting 8,320 people.

These people’s organization members have been benefiting by implementing livelihood and agroforestry projects under the Community–Based Forest Management (CBFM) program in the Bicol region.

Agroforestry farm development is the planting of forest trees combined with agricultural crops.

In support to the Hunger Mitigation and Alleviation program, the Agrarian Reform Fund (ARF) under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), through the DENR has provided since 2007 financial assistance to strengthen the CBFM program in the region. The projects under CBFM are carried out to improve the productivity of upland communities through generation of additional income and to promote food security.

As of December 2009, at least eight projects had been implemented region wide. These projects provide livelihood opportunities to CBFM beneficiaries while managing and protecting their respective project areas.

The first project under CBFM-CARP program financed by its Agrarian Reform Fund was the Agroforestry Expansion Project implemented starting on September 2007 by the Tao Kalikasan Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. (TKFP) in Barangays Tigbinan, Kanapawan and Sitio Benquet in Labo, Camarines Norte.

Three farmer cooperative-members of the TKFP carried out the 67-hectare project in Barangay Tigbinan (29 hectares), Barangay Kanapawan (19 hectares) and Sitio Benguet (19 hectares).

Among its accomplishments were: established/planted 67 hectares agroforestry farms; established a 500-square meter nursery and produced 107,254 indigenous (native) and 6,700 grafted fruit bearing trees; and purchased and distributed 15 heads of carabaos to members of (TKFP) .

DENR foresters involved in the CBFM-CARP program said that due to the multiple benefits derived by the communities from projects implemented, more People’s Organizations became interested.

In 2008, two projects were approved and implemented. These are: Upland Rice Production and Fruit Orchard Development in San Pascual, Basud, Camarines Norte; and Pili-Based Agroforestry Farming in La Victoria, Bula, Camarines Sur.

In 2009, five additional projects were approved and implemented, namely, Watershed Reforestation through Agroforestry Development Project; Integrated Kawayan Tinik and Anahaw Agroforestry Project in Pambuhan, Mercedes, Camarines Norte; Salago Enhancement and Abaca Orchard for Livelihood and Environmental Protection project;

Rattan-Abaca Agroforestry and Development Project in Rizal, Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte; and Integrated Agroforestry Development Project in Maonon, Ligao.

Of the eight CBFM-CARP projects, one project has been turned over to the peoples’ organization at Barangay Tigbinan, while seven are ongoing and being monitored and supervised by the DENR in the provinces of Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Albay.

The CBFM program was adopted in the Bicol Region in 1994 pursuant to Executive Order No. 263 adopting CBFM as a national strategy to ensure the sustainable development of the country’s forest resources. On October 10, 1996, DENR Administrative Order 96-29 was issued to implement the CBFM strategy.

The objective of CBFM is to empower and train people or communities to be effective partners of DENR in the sustainable management of forest resources.

The DENR also seeks partnership with LGUs, NGOs and other groups in the implementation of CBFM program.

CBFM applies to all areas classified as forest lands, including allowable zones within protected areas not covered by prior vested rights.

Participants in the program are people actually residing within or adjacent to forest lands. They could actually be tilling portions of the area or traditionally using the forest resources for livelihood.

The participants are organized into people’s organization which represents the interest of the members, protect and maintain forest land entrusted to their stewardship. The DENR and local government unit identify CBFM areas, and organize and prepare CBFM communities. (PNA)

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