U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission experiences Lawin in action in Aklan

A patroller shows DCM Michael S. Klecheski the use of Cybertracker, the mobile app used to record observations and actions taken during a Lawin patrol. (Photo credit: USAID/B+WISER)

On May 21st, U.S. Embassy Manila's Deputy Chief of Mission, Michael S. Klecheski, visited Bakhawan Eco-park in Kalibo, Aklan to observe how the Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System (Lawin) developed by USAID's Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) helps protect the 220-hectare mangrove forest. DENR's forest rangers demonstrated how they use Lawin to organize and modernize planning, patrolling, and response to threats with the help of a mobile application for easy collection, recording, viewing, and analysis of forest patrol data. Meanwhile, Kalibo Save the Mangroves Association (KASAMA), the non-governmental organization working with the DENR to manage the forest, discussed the forest's history and their activities to protect and conserve it. They also welcomed the guests with local fruits and delicacies such as "tamilok" or shipworm, a kind of mollusk that lives in mangrove trees.

Named after the local name for "mangrove", Bakhawan Eco-park was created in 1990 as a 50-hectare mangrove reforestation project to protect the local community from floods and storm surges. With the strong dedication and partnership of KASAMA, DENR, and the local government, this became one of the country's most successful mangrove reforestation projects, not only addressing the community's flood problems, but also providing livelihood to the locals.