Local people hold the key to protecting Southeast Asia’s forests

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“To engage communities in nature conservation, there are two options needed: increased awareness and enforcement of regulations, or community agreement on nature stewardship. Village resource management agreements are an appropriate tool to ensure their participation,” says Bone Haryanto, chairman of the Mbeliling community forum.

The effects of these agreements are already being felt. On the one hand, local people now have a much better understanding of the concept of ecosystem services: the benefits that a healthy natural environment can bring to them, such as water filtration, climate regulation and soil fertility. . As a result, 22 farmers are now using environmentally friendly soil and water conservation techniques on their land, and local communities have set up tree nurseries to reforest arid areas.

Village resource management agreements have also improved livelihoods by providing more environmentally friendly sources of income, for example by implementing sustainable timber certification. Farmers who meet certification standards can sell their timber at higher prices, making them more likely to follow sustainable forestry rules. To facilitate this, logging companies have installed wood processing machinery, appropriate protective equipment and formal training for workers, making jobs safer and better for the environment.

Philippines: a different mobile application

In the Philippines, forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Over the past 100 years, the archipelago’s tree cover has fallen from 70% to less than 24%, making it one of the fastest shrinking rainforests in the world. This is of particular concern given that more than half of the country’s species are found nowhere else on earth.

Over the past 12 years, the Haribon Foundation (BirdLife in the Philippines) has worked hard to gain protection for the highland forests of Mount Irid-Angilo and Mount Binuang in Luzon, Mount Siburan in Mindoro and Mount Hilong-hilong in Mindanao. Although there are now policies in place to safeguard these habitats, monitoring and reporting forest conditions is a challenge due to limited resources and political will.

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