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FPE’s Recent Projects Making a Difference

Posted on January 17, 2013

Bringing forests back to life

FPE and other environmental organizations persuaded the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to adopt ‘Rainforestation’ and phase out exotic trees from the National Greening Program (NGP), leading to their zero use by 2016. Rainforestation uses Philippine native trees proven more adaptable to the local environment and less susceptible to pests. It is also a strategy to help farmers earn from cultivating cash crops lined between forest trees. The NGP targets planting 1.5 billion tree seedlings on 1.5 million hectares over six years (2011-2016). FPE is an active partner in implementing NGP in key biodiversity areas, critical ecosystems and disaster-prone areas. In another project with the United States Agency for International Development, FPE through its NGO partners will be restoring up to 170,000 hectares in eight habitats nationwide through rainforestation.

Recognizing Indigenous Communities as True Environment Stewards

Grants channeled to communities of indigenous people (IPs) help protect their ancestral domains and uphold traditional management of the environment. Respect for the culture and way of life of IPs is always evident—whether FPE in the midst of reforesting the Ligawasan Marsh and organizing wildlife wardens in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao; facilitating 3D community mapping to help resolve inter-tribal land conflict in Abra; or illuminating Aeta and Agta sustainable food rituals and survival practices in the wild at the Aeta Forest Foods Festival and Development Forum. Many indigenous communities are supported to promote sustainable forests and conservation-friendly practices and livelihoods to address poverty, while their leaders learn to voice out their rights in consultative processes and practice visionary self-determination.

Defending the Defenders

FPE extends legal assistance to community leaders and environmental stewards who are being harassed with lawsuits. It helps prosecute violators of environmental laws, provides paralegal training and conducts legal orientation for citizens. One of the earliest programs proactively initiated within FPE was Environmental Defense or Endefense implemented together with NGO partners Tanggol Kalikasan, Environmental Legal Assistance Center, and Paglilingkod Batas Pangkapatiran Foundation. In 2008, a co-funded program with PTFCF gave rise to Alternative Law Groups, Inc. which has won several cases that include successful actions to forbid whale and dolphin hunting in Central Visayan waters and uphold the ban on aerial pesticide spraying in Davao City. While it pursued legal actions in a relatively low-key manner, FPE laid down a strong foundation for improved legal defense through an empowered citizenry and a growing community of dedicated environmental and public interest lawyers.

Sites Yield New Endemic Species

In May 2009, an FPE-supported resource and socio-economic assessment (RSEA)—a biodiversity measurement tool for profiling the status of sites and their environmental threats—led to the discovery of an indigenous variety of Rafflesia—known as the world’s biggest flower—within the Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park in the highlands of the Cordilleras. The same RSEA confirmed the presence of a significant number of important and threatened species in the area. Endemic plants and animals have also been spotted in other priority conservation sites of FPE. According to internationally-renowned scientist and former Environment Secretary and FPE trustee Dr. Angel Alcala: “Discovering species is just one aspect: we should continue protecting the habitats of these species.” Indeed the heart of the FPE mission to build sustainable communities is not just to gather data but help people protect their treasures so they could benefit from them.

Click here to view the ad posted in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on January 15, 2013.

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