Engaging communities in forest landscape restoration is indeed a great challenge. The forest landscape in Barangay Kawayanon has been a recipient of several reforestation programs in the early 1980s, but illegal logging, fuelwood gathering, grazing, frequent forest fires and the lukewarm involvement of local people have kept the area as permanent grassland for more than three decades. Community people do not engage in forest restoration activities out of interest but rather due to the cash incentive they have from their involvement. After reforestation project implementation, their participation greatly declines. In support of the National Greening Program of the Philippine Government, a pilot reforestation project was implemented in May 2014 in Kawayanon by the ACIAR Watershed Rehabilitation Project Team. A series of meetings, consultations of the stakeholders, community mapping and an information campaign were undertaken by the team prior to the implementation of the project. Consequently, community members have been actively engaged in this project. They planted and are maintaining nearly 20 ha of trees which are growing vigorously and have not been damaged by forest fires or grazing. This research has identified a number of keys to successful engagement of communities in forest landscape restoration. These include social preparation, deployment of community organizers, encouraging cooperation among stakeholders, an information and education campaign, and capacity building. Responsive leadership, weekly meetings with the community organizers and the people's organization, transparent financial accounting, and support for livelihoods (i.e. payments for seedling production, and plantation and agroforestry system establishment) likewise enhanced community engagement.
IUFRO Research Group 3.08 Small-scale Forestry Conference, Sunshine Coast, Australia 11-15 October 2015
Small-scale and Community Forestry and the Changing Nature of Forest Landscapes, Proceedings from the IUFRO Research Group 3.08 Small-scale Forestry Conference / Meadows, John, Harrison, Steve R, Herbohn, John (eds): pp.206-213