USAID’s B+WISER program achievements in enhancing natural resources management recognized by local stakeholders

Photo Caption: Jeremy Gustafson, Chief of USAID’s Environment Office, handed over certificates of appreciation to program partners.

Over the past five years, DENR and USAID’s B+WISER have worked closely with local stakeholders in seven sites to conserve natural forests that provide important ecosystem services that benefit people and serve as habitat for various species of wild animals. Through a series of appreciation events held in August, program accomplishments in each of the seven sites were recognized by local stakeholders.

In Northern Sierra Madre, B+WISER helped strengthen the protection of the Philippine’s largest remaining natural forest. In Upper Marikina River Protected Landscape and Kaliwa Watershed Protected Landscape, two watersheds that are most critical to the people of Metro Manila, B+WISER provided technical assistance in updating management plans of both watersheds by integrating results of ecological assessments. In Oriental Mindoro, the program partnered with DENR and the Department of Social Welfare that enhanced 800 hectares of degraded mangrove stands, and provided more than 1,000 community members with a total additional income of PhP 6M. In Quinali, a watershed critical to food production in Albay province, the Program strengthened capacity in forest protection and riverbank monitoring and stabilization that improved resilience of farming communities and the urban population. In Northern Negros, B+WISER supported the development of water-related and user fee-based conservation financing mechanisms in Bago City and Northern Negros Natural Park that is now starting to fund forest protection activities. The Program also supported the first ever written documentation of traditional norms and practices of the indigenous people of Bukidnon to promote culturally sensitive park management of Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park. In Mt. Apo Natural Park, the country’s highest mountain, the program mobilized indigenous peoples in forest protection, developed and implemented a trail and camp management plan for Mt. Apo, and helped resource managers leverage financial and technical resources from the private sector. There are two companies operating hydro-electric plants in Mt. Apo that are key to sustaining the growth of Mindanao’s economy. Throughout the seven sites, local stakeholders pledged to sustain the use of Lawin, the forest protection system, adopted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as part of its national forest protection strategy in 2016. “The Lawin system improved the protection of our forests,” said Gil Aromin, DENR Region 2 Director, during a partner’s appreciation event in Ilagan City. “We will continue what has been started, and sustain what has been accomplished,” Aromin added.