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Importance of NWFPS to forest-dependent communities in Nagtipunan, Quirino, Philippines


Introduction
Forest resources
Community profile
Socio-cultural dimensions of NWFPS
Forest management planning and NWFPS
Conclusions and recommendations


Francisco G. Talosig
President, Technologists for Optimal Programming Development, Inc. and Forest Service Organization (FSO)

Introduction

Background

This paper is based on the results of activities conducted by the Technologists for Optimal Programming Development, Inc. (TOPDI), under the USAID-funded Natural Resources Management Program-Conservation and Development of Residual Forests (NRMP-CDRF) of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The objective was to find an alternative management scheme for forests with Timber Lease Agreements (TLAs), which had either been cancelled or expired. This is one of three projects in the Philippines addressing the conservation and development of residual forests, taking due consideration of forest-dependent communities.

This undertaking can be briefly described in terms of the major activities, namely: (1) a comprehensive forest resources inventory, which assessed and characterized of the biological and physical attributes of the 8,000 hectare forest project site; (2) a community resources inventory, which examined the interrelationships between and among communities and forests; and (3) the preparation of a forest resource management plan which made use of the results of the forest and community resources inventories.

Project location and setting

Location: The 8,000 hectare CDRF project area is a typical logged-over forest. It is part of a cancelled TLA with a total area of 68,650 hectares situated in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges within the provinces of Aurora and Quirino, northeastern Luzon, Philippines. It encompasses two communities: Barangays Landingan and Wasid, both under the political jurisdiction of the municipality of Nagtipunan, in the province of Quirino.

Climate: The project site is relatively wet from June through November, and dry from December through May, when the prevailing weather pattern is the northeast monsoon. The driest month is February, with rainfall of about 39 millimeters, while the wettest month is October, with about 267 millimeters. The average annual rainfall is about 1,934 millimeters.

Temperatures range from 21.0°C to 27.3°C. The coldest month is February, while the hottest months are May and June. The relative humidity ranges from 80 percent to 91 percent and is highest during August and September.

Geographically, Landingan lies along a typhoon path that has an average of five typhoons a year when weather disturbances peak from July to November. The Sierra Madre Mountain range serves as a buffer to the strong winds.

Accessibility: The project site is about 395 kilometers north of Manila, following concrete, asphalt, and dirt roads. The nearest commercial airport is at Cauayan, Isabela, approximately 120 kilometres north of the project site.

Forest resources

Physical resources

Geology and soils: The geologic material is mainly shale and limestone. The prevalent soil color and texture is reddish clay loam near built-up areas, black clay loam in the forested zone, and brownish sandy loam in the open/grassland areas. Soil depth ranges from 30 to 50 centimeters.

Watershed resources: The project area is drained by a network of creeks and tributaries that flow to the Conwap River, one of the tributaries of the Cagayan River, the largest river system in the Philippines. The northeastern part is drained by the Disabungan River and by the Dimagsanga, Dibuni, Makatka and Diandian creeks. The area in the southwest is drained by two big rivers, i.e. the Ngaden and Nangongoyan, which in turn are fed by numerous creeks.

Land use and vegetation: The project area contains old growth forests, second growth or residual forests, open or idle grasslands, and kaingin farms. The greater part of the area consists of residual forests (70.85 percent). The dominant weeds include hagonoy (Chromolaena odorata), cogon (Imperata cylindrica), Themeda spp. and other shrubs and grasses. Major tree species such as narra (Pterocarpus vidalianus), dipterocarps and lesser-known species abound within the project area.

Biological resources

Timber: Stand and stock tables were generated for various timber species groups (common hardwoods, construction and furniture wood, light hardwood, other species, narra), and for all species. The overall stand and stock table for the Landingan and Wasid management blocks are given in table 1.

For Landingan, the table reveals that there are about 195 trees per hectare with a corresponding basal area and volume of 19.24 square meters and 128.23 cubic meters, respectively. For Wasid, the number of trees, basal area and volume per hectare are 177.37, 18.64 square meters and 140.29 cubic meters, respectively.

Stand and stock tables were also generated for the more significant non-wood forest products (NWFPs) such as rattan, erect palms, and bamboos. Table 2 shows the average stocking per hectare for these NWFPs for the two sites.

Biological diversity: Surveys revealed that there are 36 families of plants, 34 of birds, 6 of mammals, 3 of reptiles and (1 amphibian family at the site. The dominant floral family is Dipterocarpaceae.

Some endangered species like the cloud rat, the bleeding-heart pigeon and the Philippine deer are present in the project area. There are abundant wildlife species for food consumption including wild chicken, wild pig, fruit bats, common doves and pigeons.

Table 1. Overall stand and stock table for the project area

DBH class (cm)

Average trees/ha.

Average basil area (sq.m./ha)

Average volume (cu.m/ha)

Landingan Site:




20

80.54

2.4063

11.1983

30

50.49

3.4678

19.9049

40

34.17

4.1015

27.1463

50

14.41

2.7152

20.0336

60

6.72

1.8519

14.1047

70

3.65

1.3597

10.6578

80

2.06

1.0186

7.7596

90

0.96

0.6012

4.8926

100~

1.59

1.7177

12.5368

Total

194.58

19.2399

128.2346

Wasid Site:




20

73.17

2.1932

12.0381

30

42.23

2.8709

18.3018

40

31.13

3.7749

28.1531

50

14.89

2.7921

23.3115

60

7.45

2.0892

18.4102

70

3.51

1.3016

11.8564

80

2.35

1.1668

10.0762

90

1.09

0.6864

6.0649

100~

1.54

1.7646

12.0812

Total

177.37

18.6397

140.2934

Table 2. Overall stand and stock table for some NWFPs (rattan, palms, bamboo)

NWFP

Average number per hectare

Average length/height per hectare (meters)

Landingan Site:




Rattan

6.67

48.04


Palms

3.26

10.63


Bamboo

14.37

121.26

Wasid Site:




Rattan

8.66

82.86


Palms

2.82

18.63


Bamboo

15.52

139.27

Other non-wood products are also utilised for subsistence needs by the communities.

Community profile

The present users of the forest, essentially hunters and gatherers, come from two communities (Barangays Landingan and Wasid) in the municipality of Nagtipunan, Quirino.

Socio-cultural and demography

Demography, ethnic composition and migration: The project site is occupied by 153 households with a total population of 775, the majority of which are between 15 and 60 years of age. The average household size is 5.19, while the population density is about one person for every 20 hectares. The average annual growth rate is 3.42 percent.

The majority (61.42 percent) of the residents of the project site are Ilongots. All the others are migrants (38.58 percent) such as Ilocanos, Itawes, Yogads, Tagalogs, Pangalatoks, Igorots, etc. These migrants came for various reasons such as: availability of work and land for agricultural purposes, peace and order, intermarriages and kinship.

Labor force: Out of the total population, 287 people (or 37 percent) are part of the actual labor force in the project site. As of 1993, both potential and actual workers (1560 years age bracket) accounted for about 52.9 percent of the total population.

Literacy and education: Residents of the communities have very low literacy levels because of: a) education limited to the primary level; b) distance of the communities to population centers with higher education facilities; c) poverty; and d) weak motivation among the residents of the communities. Nevertheless, the residents have expressed interest in learning skills in woodworking and basket weaving. In Barangay Wasid, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is currently sponsoring adult literacy classes.

Socio-political organizations: Relationships, inter-actions, and activities among the local residents are governed by existing organizations. The membership of the Barangay Council consists of all adult male members of the community. Their practice of democracy is combined with their tribal tradition, where a decision is reached only when all agree upon it.

The women and the youth have no voice in making decisions in the community. Women's duties are confined to the kitchen, caring for children, fixing the house, and other household chores. Their occasional presence at assemblies is to represent their husbands, but they cannot vote. The youth must show accomplishments in the Kabataang Barangay before they are allowed to participate in decisions pertaining to the community.

Another key organization is the Ilongot Christian Bible Fellowship, a religious organization composed of Ilongots in the community. In this group, not only is the word of God studied and analyzed, but issues and problems in the community are also taken up. Here men, women, and the youth are heard, although the elders always have a dominant influence.

Generally, the political aspects of barangay administration are handled by the elected officials, while the elders dominate in resolving social conflicts (e.g. marriage, land claims) as these require due consideration of culture and traditions in the decisions.

Resolution of conflicts: When conflicts arise, usually the problem is easily resolved by the elders in the community.

System of cooperation: There are two ways in which undertakings are shared: (1) individual help on the farm, called ammuyo, where service is reciprocated by service; and (2) by bayanihan, which is a voluntary service to undertake community projects without any repayment.

Access to basic services: The Local Government Unit (LOU) had plans to put up a mini-hydro power plant, but this met with negative reactions from the residents for environmental reasons.

Infrastructure: A dirt road links the town proper to the project site. The road is generally passable only during the dry season. Tributaries of the Conwap River crisscross this road and there are no bridges. The LGU has plans to upgrade the 47 kilometrer road to an all-weather road leading to the different Barangays.

School houses, which are also used as adult learning centers, are only adequate for schoolage children in the primary grades.

However, more buildings are needed for additional grade levels. Recreational facilities, such as a paved basketball court, are available in Barangay Landingan.

Livelihood

Kaingin: Kaingin (shifting cultivation) is the major source of livelihood for the upland farmers (73 percent in Landingan and 80 percent in Wasid). In both Barangays, corn and banana are the principal commercial crops grown. Other subsistence crops include rice, fruits and vegetables. Barangay Wasid is more dependent on subsistence kaingin farming than Barangay Landingan, due to lack of access to markets.

Table 3. Major crops produced and product disposal, Barangays Landingan and Wasid.

Crops

Purposes

Percent distribution



Wasid

Landingan

Corn

Sale

85

85

Seed stock

5

5

Consumption

10

5

Animal feed

2

5

Banana

Sale

85

75

Consumption

8

20

Give awaay

5

5

Upland rice

As food

95

95

Seed stock

5

5

Pineapple

As food


50

Give away


50

Peanut

Sale


90

As food


5

Seeds


5

Vegetables

As food


90

Sale


10

Commercial forest products extraction: Most of the residents in both barangays (50.5 percent for Landingan and 35.8 percent for Wasid) are heavily dependent on forest products extraction. The greater part of the residents' income comes from timber extraction, particularly narra. It is the biggest source of cash income for all households engaged in this activity in Landingan, and the second highest source of cash income for Wasid residents.

At the community level, Landingan is commercially extracting narra at the rate of 267,340 board feet annually, with a gross value estimated at P2,407,959, while Wasid's rate is 126,012 board feet valued at P1,181,397. A small volume is extracted for home use, but most is sold.

Narra extraction involves the use of a chainsaw in felling and splitting the log into flitches and/or slicing the flitches into lumber right at the stump site. The wood is transported by water buffalo (carabao) or manually hauled along a logging road or river bank and loaded onto a truck or river transport.

Subsistence forest products extraction: Both communities engage in subsistence extraction of wildlife, fish, and other non-wood forest products, shadow priced at P508,479 and P361,046 for Landingan and Wasid, respectively. Fish and wildlife are the NWFPs most commonly utilised for subsistence, accounting for at least 80 percent of the total subsistence value of NWFPs (i.e. excluding wood products) for Landingan, and at least 60 percent for Wasid.

Socio-cultural dimensions of NWFPS

Boundaries and use of forest land: There are clear boundaries between the different barangays within the project area. These boundaries are in the form of ecological divides such as waterways, ridges, etc. Even if residents of the two barangays belong to the same tribe, they have a clearly accepted rule that neither community can intrude upon, or gather products from, the jurisdiction of the other.

The communities use their forest for multiple purposes: other than being their source of livelihood, they revere some portions as being sacred, as taught by their ancestors. They look up to their forest as their ultimate home; this attachment to the forest causes them to be suspicious about development projects, as these are perceived as disguised attempts to take their lands away. With a claim over the forest as ancestral domain, the Ilongots exercise almost absolute control in the use of their forest, except in the application of existing government forestry rules and regulations, particularly those concerning the harvesting of timber.

Land ownership: Many residents claim portions of the forest as their property, especially the clearings (kaingin) they have made. Arable lands near the built-up areas of Landingan and Wasid are claimed by the residents through tax declarations. No land ownership has been supported by land title to date. As to the forest land where the project is sited, the communities claim ancestral domain, which the government recognises by way of granting these communities a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC).

Table 4. Subsistence forest products extraction in Landingan and Wasid

Product

Unit of measure

% of households involved

Unit shadow price (pesos)

Total shadow price value (pesos)

LANDINGAN:






Fish

kg.

65

46.30

368,324


Wild pig

kg.

46

58.40

44,258


Construction wood

bd.ft.

30

4.31

37,818


Deer

kg.

21

56.84

24,938


Fuelwood

cu.m.

60

24.26

11,669


Narra

bd.ft.

9

8.33

11,540


Wild chicken

kg.

14

50.32

5,190


Rattan

Poles,9'

22

3.47

1,746


Monkey

kg.

7

47.50

1,642


Cogon

bundle

8

2.95

594


Betel nut

pc.

2

1.00

230


Shells (agurung)

plate

2

5.00

192


Orchids

pc.

2

10.00

115


Shrimps

kg.

2

1.00

96


Ikmo leaves

pc.

2

0.10

58


Monitor lizard

head

2

25.00

48


Wildcat

kg.

2

10.00

19


Shells (empty)

kg.

2

0.10

2


Total




508,479

WASID:






Construction wood

bd.ft.

63

3.84

121,165


Narra

bd.ft.

25

8.78

100,486


Fish

kg.

76

37.61

66,800


Deer

kg.

28

59.55

22,918


Wild pig

kg.

29

60.50

16,133


Cogon

bundle, 10"

51

4.94

14,620


Rattan

pole,9'

26

4.24

8,085


Birds

kg.

6

5.00

3,754


Wild chicken

kg.

11

60.00

1,630


Monkey

kg.

6

60.00

1,453


Buri palm

pcs.

3

10.00

1,306


Orchids

pcs.

15

16.00

951


Wildcat

kg.

3

20.00

870


Betel nut

pcs.

3

4.00

435


Buho (bamboo)

pcs.

3

2.00

209


Anibong palm

pcs.

3

100.00

209


Herbal medicine

various

3

2.00

22


Total




361,046

Forest management planning and NWFPS

A Resource Management Plan (RMP) was prepared after a series of consultations with the residents of the affected barangays, the DENR, and the Local Government Units (LGUs). A multi-resource, multi-objective integrated forest management plan evolved from this project.

The management strategy captures the unique cultural configuration of the local people (e.g. ancestral land rights) and a down-to-earth translation of people empowerment. Consideration was given to adapt the plan to the biophysical and community characteristics determined by the comprehensive resources inventories.

A unique feature of the plan is the provision to maintain the present level of subsistence forest products extraction, bringing non-wood forest products into focus. Moreover, the plan recognises the need to include NWFPs, inasmuch as they contribute significantly to the welfare of the forest-dependent communities. Consequently, this will lessen the pressure on timber extraction, leading to greater sustainability and equity in the long run.

Conclusions and recommendations

The project resulted in valuable lessons in the socio-politico, biophysical and resource management planning context. Foremost among these lessons are the indispensable involvement of communities and local people, strong resistance and pressure from the socio-political milieu, and the professional growth of the physical and resource planners.

The resource management plan produced under the project is a major departure from typical timber-oriented forest management plans. It manifests the growing awareness that NWFPs are resources too important to be ignored in forest management planning.


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