By GWEN GAONGEN
BONTOC, Mountain Province — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Mountain Province has completed Land Use Zoning consultations in the recognized Batangan Systems in the municipalities of Tadian, Besao and Sagada.
This is towards completing the requisites for the operationalization of the Batangan System. The Batangan system is the indigenous forest management system of Mountain Province.
DENR is now conducting woodlot sampling and participatory resource inventories as well as community consultations for possible resource based livelihoods in the said three towns.
There are several other processes that are yet to be completed such as the approval by the people through public hearings of the municipal ordinance on the Batangan System. Traditional practices on resource management need to be explicitly stated also in barangay legislation.
Christopher Bosaing, senior forester at the DENR, says that the operationalization of the Batangan System is the available mechanism that their agency sees as a means for indigenous peoples of the target municipalities to apply their customary practices on resource management and utilization. If the towns of Sagada, Besao and Tadian fail to comply with the requisites or opt not to operationalize their Batangan System then PD 705 or the Forestry Code will be strictly enforced.
Practical concerns too have surfaced in the field. One is the need to resolve overlap or even confusion in relation to woodlots that are within the ancestral domain or territory of a village or ili but is now in another barangay/municipality as defined by political boundaries. This way, the question of “kuwami nan batang, kuwa yu nan daga” by virtue of Cadastral surveys need to be resolved.
Bosaing says the NCIP can help resolve these concerns if it aggressively pushes to define a tenure instrument appropriate for IPs.
In community land use zoning consultations, many participants see “development” of woodlots as equal to extraction and income generated from lumber. These woodlots are also target for build-up areas for residential and commercial purposes as seen in the various road networks included in the land use plans. There is a “build-build-build” undertow rather than urgency to “plant-plant-plant”.
The processes prior to utilization and mechanisms for management of woodlots as defined by the communities documented through past DENR researches and validated in recent consultations may be adequate to conserve the existing woodlots for future use as well as rationalize the usage at present, says Bosaing. The challenge is for the indigenous peoples to show that these practices truly function and are sustainable in todays’ context. It is also incumbent that local leaders, both in traditional institutions such as the dap-ay and local government units have the political will to enforce the customary laws now embodied in the ordinances. # nordis.net