Project: Empower, Innovate

Marine Conservation Project: CCIPH and the Indigenous People’s Partnership

To empower stakeholders and protect biodiversity and their habitat are two of the four core programs of CCI PH. The CCI PH has worked with numerous communities, stakeholders, and partners in fulfilling its commitment to empower and protect. In this regard, the organization has teamed up with several indigenous peoples’ community in the management of coastal resources in the vast Province of Quezon and Palawan.

In a 2018 study by Garnet et. al., the valuable and critical role of the indigenous people in the conservation and protection of ecologically important habitats around the world were acknowledged. The IPs comprise only five percent of the world population, but they have use and management rights to a significant amount of the earth’s surface at 14.7 million square miles. Therefore, as the authors positioned, it is imperative that we empower such communities if we want to save what is left of our natural resources. This is the exact principle that the CCIPH imbibe when we envision and implement initiatives with the IP communities.

The Marine Conservation Project aims to capacitate several IP groups in terms of coastal resource management. Specifically, we collaborated with the Lamane, Ebat’eng, Marnek, Talabongnan Tagbanua Association (LEMTTA) and the Tagbanua community of Aramaywan, Quezon, Palawan; also with the Samahan ng mga Katutubong Agta na Pinagtatangol at Binabaka ang Lupaing Ninuno (SAGIBIN-LN) and Agta-Dumagat-Remontado community of Sablang, General Nakar, Quezon.

The project has three components: the (1) Coastal Resource Survey, (2) Establishment of Marine Protected Area in Ancestral Waters, and the (3) Provision of Sustainable Livelihoods. Through the cooperation with our IP partners, 42 fish wardens were officially deputized by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. No take zones were also identified and delineated in the marine territories, and barangay ordinances have been issued in establishing marine sanctuaries in the two ancestral domain pilot sites.

To ensure a shared understanding of relevant tenurial legislations and the integration of local marine conservation with ancestral domain management planning, community meetings and training were thoroughly conducted. CCIPH also believes that indigenous and traditional knowledge are indispensable elements in the success of any conservation project involving IPs. That is why the organization, through various consultation and meetings with key stakeholders, initiated the documentation and sharing of effective local indigenous marine management models among local and the national government which can serve as a guide in environmental policy decisions.

Enhancing the indigenous peoples’ capacity to conserve and protect ancestral land and water resources is not merely a topographical strategy that we employ in any biodiversity conservation initiative. However, it is also important to acknowledge that threats to biodiversity are evolving, thus it is critical that we work on enhancing existing knowledge and capacity. After all, our IP brethren are the last frontier of biodiversity.

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