PAMANA forest guards mobilized for stronger forest protection in Apayao Province

Photo Caption: B+WISER coaches PAMANA forest guards during simulation exercises in the training held on 11-12 October 2017

DENR mobilized 38 forest guards employed under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program, a convergence initiative to promote lasting peace by extending development interventions in conflict-affected areas, to strengthen the protection of 215,000 hectares of forests in Apayao.

Last week, the forest guards participated in a two-day training on the Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System conducted by PENRO Apayao and USAID’s Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) project. Along with 23 regular DENR forest rangers, the PAMANA forest guards engaged in discussions with DENR and USAID/B+WISER coaches to understand the Lawin System. They also participated in simulation exercises on the use of Cybertracker, the application installed in smartphones to record patrol observations. Smartphones, which were procured by PENRO Apayao, were distributed and used during the training. At the end of the training, the forest guards were assigned to specific patrol teams and their names added to the list of patrollers in the SMART software used in Lawin. Data analysis in the SMART software will allow PENRO Apayao to easily monitor and evaluate the performance of the PAMANA patrollers. The newly-trained forest guards will augment the patrol force of PENRO Apayao, which currently grapples with threats like illegal cutting, illegal structures, perennial farming and kaingin (slash and burn). The PENRO intends to build up and improve patrol efforts in the province’s 215,000-hectare forests, which the Isnegs, the Indigenous Peoples of Apayao, greatly depend on.