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Landcare on the Poverty-Protection Interface in an Asian Watershed

Dennis P Garrity, International Centre for Research in Agroforestry
Victor B Amoroso
Samuel Koffa
Delia Catacutan
Gladys Buenavista
Paul Fay
William Dar

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Abstract

Serious methodological and policy hurdles constrain effective natural resource management that alleviates poverty while protecting environmental services in tropical watersheds. We review the development of an approach that integrates biodiversity conservation with agroforestry development through the active involvement of communities and their local governments near the Kitanglad Range Natural Park in the Manupali watershed, central Mindanao, the Philippines. Agroforestry innovations were developed to suit the biophysical and socioeconomic conditions of the buffer zone. These included practices for tree farming and conservation farming for annual cropping on slopes. Institutional innovations improved resource management, resulting in an effective social contract to protect the natural biodiversity of the park. The production of fruit and timber trees dramatically increased, re-establishing tree cover in the buffer zone. Natural vegetative contour strips were installed on several hundred sloping farms. Soil erosion and runoff declined, and the buffer strips increased maize yields by an average of 0.5 t/ha on hill-slope farms. The scientific knowledge base guided the development and implementation of a natural resource management plan for the municipality of Lantapan. A dynamic grass-roots movement of farmer-led Landcare groups evolved in the villages near the park boundary, which had a significant impact on conservation in both the natural and managed ecosystems. Encroachment in the natural park was reduced by 95% in 3 yr. The local Landcare groups also restored stream-corridor vegetation. This integrated approach has been recognized as a national model for the local management of natural resources and watersheds in the Philippines. Currently, the collaborating institutions are evolving a negotiation support system to resolve the interactions between the three management domains: the park, the ancestral domain claim, and the municipalities. This integrated systems approach operated effectively with highly constrained funding, suggesting that commitment and impact may best be stimulated by a "drip-feed" approach rather than by large, externally funded efforts.

Key words

agroforestry, biodiversity, buffer zone, integrated conservation-development projects, land care, protected national park, soil conservation, sustainable agriculture, timber
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087