MALAYBALAY CITY (IPS) Bukidnon State University has played a great role in developing the Mindanao Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) Network, said Felix S. Mirasol, OIC regional director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-10.
The DENR, he said, has long aspired to form a network of PAMBs as a platform to manage effectively the biodiversity conservation in Mindanao. He said Mindanaoʾs protected areas play a critical role in supporting the socio-economic development of the island and the nation.
The network, a collaboration among stakeholders and partners that promotes biodiversity conservation in Mindanao Protected Areas (PAs), was finally organized in 2015 as an avenue where Mindanao PAMBs can get-together primarily to share experiences, lessons learned, practices, partnership approaches, among others.
BukSUʾs role focused on helping in organizational development and in capacity building, Mirasol added.
The networkʾs membership includes all Mindanao PAMBs in 38 out of 46 PAs in regions 9,10, 11, 12 and 13. The network envisions sustaining biodiversity resources and managing the PAs in Mindanao based on culture and science. The network supports the sustained biodiversity conservation of over one million three hundred twenty-three thousand four hundred sixty-one (1,323,461) hectares of PAs in Mindanao that will benefit the present and future generations.
How BukSU got in?
Mirasol said BukSU was able to join two DENR learning events in 2015 – a research forum and conflict sensitive management in protected areas. He said the partnership between DENR and GIZ or Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) German Corporation for International Cooperation) planned to have six learning events but was able to organize only two.
He said it appeared there was a difficulty in organizing, which he said they did not want to continue at the expense of the accomplishment of their goals.
ʺWe thought of looking for other partners. Based on needs assessment, there is a need to address the organizational and capability development needs of the PAMB. Thatʾs how BukSU came in, ʺ he told the IPS in an interview.
The DENR together with the (GIZ) Conflict Sensitive Resource and Asset Management (COSERAM) project of the Federal Republic of Germany and Bukidnon State University through its Institute of Environmental Governance (BukSU-IEG) agreed to support the Mindanao PAMB Network in their organizational development and capability development components.
Dr. Oscar B. Cabañelez, university president, signed for BukSU a memorandum of agreement with GIZʾs COSERAM or Conflict Sensitive Resource and Asset Management for the duration of May 2017 to October 2018.
The research-based program on Strengthening Management of Mindanao Protected Areas towards Bio-Cultural Diversity Conservation and Sustainable Development received financial support amounting to Php 4,805,094.76. BukSU has a counterpart of Php 892,976.16.
The program aims to establish mechanisms that will make Mindanao PAMB Network functional towards the inclusive and effective management of PAs in Mindanao.
The project took off from the various activities and priority agenda identified by the network.
The project capitalizes on the individual potential of a member PA to bring inclusive growth and greater impact, according to a project briefer provided by the IEG. The network is expected to cultivate the culture of open communication, with the sharing of experiences in managing a PA as an enriching communication activity that allows other members to listen and learn lessons from.
The project espouses the sharing of best practices and highlights the important decisions made to share inspiration and encouragement with other protected areas.
The project involved the holding of a series of local and national meetings, the legalization of the network including the signing of memorandum of agreement among PAMBs in Mindanaoʾs different regions, formulation of the network manual of operations, strategic planning and other related work in organizational development.
The other half of the project organized three sets of training with representatives from Regions 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. The three capability development components were on indigenous peoplesʾ culture and traditions, improvement of PAMB functionality and enhancement of community participation.
In July, DENRʾs Mirasol said BukSU- Institute of Environmental Governance (IEG) ensured the capability development activities, a total of eleven already, were being done effectively.
He cited the involvement of the faculty and students in documentation and facilitation of the transfer of knowledge. They also developed modules for future trainings and their students.
ʺGIZ is very happy. We in DENR, too. BukSU-IEG facilitated the partnership, ʺ he said.
He said a large part of protected areas are headwaters.
ʺIf you talk about scarcity of water, manage effectively the protected areas – they are disaster mitigating landscape. If there is no forest there will be flashflood, sedimentation. That’s disaster, ʺ he said.
He noted that protected areas promote biodiversity conservation, which in turn helps prevent health hazards and risks. He said it also helps the indigenous peoples, who declared Mt. Kitanglad for example as a peace zone.
He cited that the protected areas also provide life support such as water for the people. He noted the role of the protected area in keeping biodiversity – a potential source of livelihood via eco-tourism for the local communities.
ʺThat’s how important the 1.3 million hectares of protected areas in Mindanao are,ʺ he said.
The PAMB network organization, he added, has become a national PAMB best practice. In the past 20 years, he said, a national PAMB network has been a desire among stakeholders.
Representatives from protected areas in Luzon and Visayas are invited to the 3rd Mindanao PAMB Network Conference on September 18 to 20, 2018 in Cagayan de Oro ʺso they could learn from the Mindanao experienceʺ.
According to the BukSU-IEG, the DENR and GIZ-COSERAM saw to it that both the implementers and the target clients are capacitated and strengthened.
ʺOur partnership through this project exemplifies the goal of the university to pursue a research-based, high impact and externally-funded university-wide extension project, ʺ said Dr. Joy M. Mirasol, BukSU Vice President for Research, Extension and International Affairs.
Dr. Mirasol said the project has evolved into a university-wide extension project involving the bigger portion of the university academic community. (Walter I. Balane with a report from Joan M. Recente/OVPREIA for Information and Publication Service )