May 29, 2024 -

Macatumbalen CBFM Association continues to set benchmark for responsible community-based forest management

The welcome signage on the MCBFMA’s nursery in lower nursery ng MCBFMA sa Sitio Macatumbalen.

MACATUMBALEN, San Vicente, Palawan – The municipality of San Vicente in Palawan’s northwest is an emerging travel destination in the Philippines. The municipality is popular for its Long Beach, which is said to be the longest continuous white sand beach in the country. But not known to many, San Vicente also hosts a vast expanse of forested landscapes, which potentially harbors varied endemic flora and fauna, and holds strategic proximity to various ecologically significant and protected regions in Palawan.

The Macatumbalen Community-Based Forest Management Association (MCBFMA), based in Sitio Macatumbalen in San Vicente’s Poblacion, is an association founded in the late 90s that aims to protect the local forest ecosystem and manage forest resources in a sustainable manner. The MCBFMA was awarded a community-based forest management (CBFM) zone in 2002, which covers an area of approximately 1,800 hectares. 

Nida Collado, the CBFM’s Chairman, recalled the driving force behind the establishment of the organization: the need for both sustainability and livelihood.  She described how the community’s desire to ensure the long-term viability of their rattan handicraft production, alongside their interest in utilizing other non-timber forest products as a source of income, led to the creation of the CBFM.

Kasi kung aabusohin mo yung pag-gather ng rattan, aabusohin mo yung pag-gather ng honey na hindi sustainable, maubos din yun. So dapat, nasa tamang proseso ang lahat na gagawin sa loob ng forest. Kung matatandaan ko nung araw, yung kauna-unahang ginawa naming sa pamagitan ng rautan handicraft, since 1997, naisip ng Purok Chairman na dapat ma-sustain ang produkto, dapat merong nung legal organization yung livelihood na yan. So nai-register at naka-avail ng CBFM para sa magagamit sa handicraft, doon talaga kami nag-start” said Collado.

Female officers of the MCBFMA.

Frest rattan poles stockpiled in the MCBFMA’s warehouse.

Beyond serving as a main source of livelihood, Collado also emphasized that the CBFM also supplements the food needs of the residents of Macatumbalen and serves as an important source of water for the local community.

“Kailangan din namin proteksyonan sa pamagitan ng aming programang CBFM ang ecosystem, kasi dyan kami kumukuha ng fresh water, fresh air, at dapat masulitan namin ng pagtatanim at pangangalaga ito para hindi ito masira, dahil dyan din kinukuha, yung food naming

At present, the association is actively involved in environmental protection and ecosystem conservation, preventing illegal logging and land encroachment. Furthermore, the association engages in activities such as coastal clean-up and mangrove forest restoration, indicating a broader commitment to environmental stewardship beyond forest management alone. The association’s efforts have led to significant achievements in apprehending illegal activities within their forest area, earning them national recognition.

“Ang kasalukayan po na tinututukan ng CBFM ay yung pagpoprotekta sa kalikasan at pangangalaga doon sa mga puno. Kasi po kung hahayaan natin yung gubat na hindi natin talaga ma-proteksyonan yung mga puno, tuloyan nang masisira po yung gubat, at wla na po tayong mga puno na magikita” said Salvador Yayen the association’s incumbent secretary when asked about the current activities of the CBFMA.

Due to the association’s success and exemplary forest stewardship, the association is proud that it now acts as a beacon for many other CBFM and grassroots organizations in Palawan and beyond. Their success story is a powerful inspiration, encouraging other organizations to replicate their achievements.  This has led to their CBFM becoming a common benchmarking site, with representatives from other communities visiting now and then to observe their practices and learn from their model.

Ang sabi ng ibang region, dito lang daw nila nakita ang tamang proseso ng honey [production], na na-share naming. Hindi ko naman nakalain na may [organizations] sa Region 4A, na appreciate nila yung marami raw silang nakitang forest, sa Macatumbalen lang ang napakalinis na forest na nakita nila walang kalat na basura” said Collado.

Collado credits the organization’s participation in the ASSERT-CBFM project for propelling them to nationwide recognition for their exemplary forest stewardship. Their success has served as an inspiration, with People’s Organizations (POs) across the Philippines seeking to replicate their achievements. She added that the project has unlocked a wealth of new opportunities for the association.
Maraming kaming opportunities na nakuha dahil sa ASSERT-CBFM. Hindi lang sa business, hindi lang sa funding kundi marami pa. Narating na namin ang antas [naming ngayon], kasi nagsikap talaga kami nung makilala kami ng ASSERT-CBFM kasi na-inspire kami, so hanggang marating namin ang antas ng national awardee kasi na-inspire talaga kami at nakilala talaga kami ng gusto” said Collado while sharing about the organization’s recent awards, particularly the Philippine Resilience Award.

Moving forward, Collado highlighted their plans to champion the protection of forests and natural resources not just within their CBFM site, but throughout San Vicente. She emphasized that this advocacy could involve collaboration with government institutions and partner environmental organizations to strengthen regulations and promote conservation awareness. 

“Kung hindi na natin proteksyonan ang forest, yung mga open access ng timberland, kayang bayaran ng mayayaman, ano ang mangyayari sa ating klima? Kaya yun ang goal ko [i-support] sa batas. ngayon we are moving for funding para maitakbo na yung polisiya ng CBFM”

Additionally, the association is exploring ways to diversify livelihoods for its members, to include venturing beyond traditional activities like rattan harvesting and to develop value-added products like furniture or handicrafts, potentially increasing their economic opportunities.

The MCBFMA also recognizes the power of their example, thus they remain committed to inspiring and motivating other communities by continuing to serve as a model of successful community-driven forest conservation and sustainable resource management.

ASSERT-CBFM was a 32-month project funded by the Forest Foundation Philippines, aiming to enhance Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) in relation to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the Philippines. The project focused on assessing, engaging, and building the capacity of CBFM stakeholders through collaborative learning and knowledge exchange. It also aimed to formulate and elevate policy recommendations to national mechanisms on NDCs. Implemented by NTFP-EP Asia and its partners, the project ran from 2020 to 2022. ASSERT-CBFM 2, a nine-month continuation, documented lessons from CBFM organizations that received small grants for ecosystem-based adaptation and green business initiatives, awarding a total of PhP1,850,000 to ten organizations.

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