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PIA Press Release

Sarangani villages co-manage forest zones

GLAN, Sarangani (16 October) -- Three upland barangays have forged co-management agreements to protect their forest zones covering a total of 777 hectares.

Under the agreement, the Barangay Forest Protected Zone shall be managed by the parties because of its "critical ecological functions that would affect the other sub-systems" in the entire barangay.

The parties are national and local environment offices, municipal and barangay local government units (LGUs), Department of Education, police, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, tribal community, the barangay forest protection and management committee and forest occupants.

Governor Migs Dominguez, who installed forest guards during a multi-sectoral program in barangay Sufatubo Wednesday, told teachers to educate pupils on forest protection early on.

Sufatubo barangay chairman Romeo Ogong Sr. said the project runs suitably with his barangay ordinance declaring protected areas as wildlife sanctuary.

"Hunting wildlife or even birds is strictly prohibited here," Ogong said.

Ogong said many of his constituents were willing to plant trees. He had collected at least 5,000 seedlings but these were not enough for the barangay's 152-hectare forest protected zone.

Ogong asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to train his forest guards on seedling propagation "so that we won't ask seedlings from you all the time."

The DENR has devolved its forest management functions to the municipal and barangay LGUs. Among the devolved functions were the identification, delineation and establishment of protected forestlands within their territorial coverage.

The barangay forest protection and management scheme was presented to residents in the three barangays by the Upland Development Programme (UDP) on October 11-13.

Barangay Rio del Pilar received the same project for 554.9 hectares. In Malapatan town, barangay Libi also committed to protect 70 hectares.

Dashiel Indelible, UDP co-director, said barangay residents were gathered to witness the signing of site management agreements, presentation of memorandum-of-agreement and oath taking of forest guards because they are stakeholders of the project.

"Improving agriculture alone is not enough," according to a UDP briefer. "Equally important is the protection of the barangay forest resources and management of forest production areas under a localized scheme."

The scheme addresses the destruction of the remaining forests in the uplands caused by the expansion of inappropriate farming and similar unsound practices in steep slopes.

UDP has projects in all seven towns of Sarangani through the Sustainable Upland Development (SUD) model. SUD ensures management of the upland resource base and to improve the living standards of the communities who derive most of their income from upland farming.

UDP is a special government project executed by the Department of Agriculture and supported by a grant from the European Union. (PIO Sarangani/PIA SarGen) [top]

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