Sustainable Landscape Approach
A landscape is a jurisdictional planning area that includes spaces for essential natural capital and key production systems. These must be large enough to meet production and conservation goals, yet small enough to make implementation feasible.
Land-use planning efforts are now embracing a more integrated and holistic landscape approach rather than sectoral approaches. Forest Foundation’s sustainable landscape approach recognizes how people depend on their landscapes for their livelihoods, food, culture, and identity, and how essential it is to handle these with care.
This approach allows a forest landscape to be seen as a series of interdependent natural and human systems, and is particularly useful when there are multiple stakeholders within a landscape with varying resource requirements and interdependencies. It builds on the assumption that combining development, conservation, and human well-being is possible. It involves long-term collaboration to build consensus among all stakeholders, with regard to land management policies and sustainable landscape objectives.
In the sustainable landscape approach, essential natural capital is maintained by promoting the use of best practices in production, planning, and local decision-making processes to ensure the healthy provision of ecosystem services and the improvement of human well-being. By integrating ecosystems into large-scale land-use strategies through a sustainable landscape approach, countries can achieve targets for sustainable agricultural and forest production, conservation of natural capital, and improvement of human well-being, while tackling the complex challenge of climate change.
More information about this approach can be found here.
Sustainable Livelihoods Approach
One of Forest Foundation’s target outcomes is to improve community livelihoods. The key strategy to achieve this is to improve the livelihood assets of communities (which include natural, financial, capital, social, physical, and human assets), as well as to catalyze, implement, and sustain livelihood, while still protecting the forests.
The context of poverty among forest-dependent communities needs to be defined to illustrate the aptness of interventions by development institutions. The sustainable livelihoods approach provides an analytical framework that promotes the systematic analysis of the underlying processes and causes of poverty. The Foundation believes poverty is a multi-dimensional problem that should not be understood solely based on simplistic assumptions about income. It should be understood with development and conservation in mind, as well as improving stakeholder capacity and relationship.
The Foundation’s livelihood approach recognizes the need to accentuate opportunities for production and utilization of a wide range of products sustainably-sourced from the forest, as well as identifying options for sustainable financing mechanisms through enhancing services with economic value. These are accompanied with the assistance to diversify products and create alternative sources of income, as well as access to strong markets for both raw and secondary products obtained from the landscapes.
These actions are expected to provide economic opportunities for communities that will help them in establishing and sustaining forest protection and conservation initiatives. These actions are also directly linked to easing poverty.
More information about this approach can be found here.
Urban Biodiversity, and Forest and Health
Urban biodiversity is defined as the variety and richness of living organisms and habitat diversity found in and on the edge of human settlements. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines urban forests as networks or systems comprising all woodlands, groups of trees, and individual trees located in urban and peri-urban areas.
Main urban forest types defined by FAO:
- Peri-urban forests and woodlands – Forests and woodlands surrounding towns and cities that provide goods and services.
- City parks and urban forests (>0.5 ha) – Large urban or district parks, with a variety of land cover, and partly equipped with facilities for leisure and recreation.
- Pocket parks and gardens with trees (<0.5 ha) – Small district parks equipped with facilities for recreation or leisure, and private gardens and green spaces.
- Trees on streets or in public squares – Linear tree populations, small groups of trees, or individual trees in squares, parking lots, streets, etc.
- Other green spaces with trees – Urban agricultural plots, sports grounds, vacant lands, lawns, riverbanks, open fields, cemeteries, and botanical gardens.
The Rise of Forest Bathing
In the 1980s, forest-bathing was developed in Japan for residents to connect with nature through the five senses. Since then, forest-bathing has been widely practiced in temperate countries, such as the United Kingdom and South Korea. The practice promotes healing through nature, as well as protecting forests.
A 2015 study observed that green spaces are associated with better self-perceived general and mental health across different degrees of urbanization, socioeconomic statuses, and genders. With more people living within or near cities in the Philippines, it is imperative to maintain and increase green spaces to improve their health and well-being.
Importance of Forest Bathing Amid the Pandemic
The recent pandemic exposed the vulnerability of the local healthcare system. With this reality, forest bathing, or nature therapy, may be introduced to improve the mental health and well-being of frontliners and people suffering from technological stress, anxiety, and pulmonary diseases. It is also a good way for children and young adults to connect with nature.
The Urban Biodiversity, and Forest and Health Program was crafted to address the need for providing a scientific basis for crafting policies, programs, and activities to protect, conserve, and restore the country’s urban forests. In 2020, the Foundation partnered with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Biodiversity Management Bureau, Philippine Association of Landscape Architects, and Philippine Institute of Environment Planners to implement a forest bathing program, which advocates for the protection, conservation, and restoration of urban forests in the Philippines.
More information about this approach can be found here.
Generating knowledge and lessons that lead to innovative and sustainable solutions to forestry challenges have become more complex. Forest conservation research needs a balanced focus between scientific knowledge and local, indigenous knowledge in crafting forest protection and conservation policies and plans. This is achieved by looking at scientific and social aspects from a systems perspective.
From the systems perspective, collaboration among various disciplines is essential to understand complex issues (e.g. biodiversity and livelihoods) that put forests at the center of the equation. The Foundation recognizes the need for efficient systems to generate, synthesize, analyze, and communicate knowledge on forests and sustainable forest management. This is vital for mainstreaming sustainable forest management in government practices, business/private sector planning processes, and community engagements.
Knowledge on forests, however, should not only be confined within the sector, scientific community, and development practitioners. The Foundation acknowledges the power of citizen participation in protecting and sustainably managing the forests.
The Research Grant Program was crafted to address the need for providing a scientific basis for crafting policies, programs, and activities to protect, conserve, and restore the country’s forests. For the last 10 years, the Foundation has supported more than 40 research projects, which include undergraduate theses, dissertations, and applied and action research. This is achieved through the participation of various research institutions and non-government organizations, with established research programs and individuals.
One of the notable research projects the Foundation has supported is the Applied Research Grant of Dr. Marilyn O. Quimado regarding the native metallophytes in Zambales and their potential use for the phytoremediation of abandoned and mined out areas. Another research supported by the Foundation is the validation of nesting sites of Philippine Eagle in North Luzon through the Philippine Eagle Foundation.
The Foundation’s Research Grant Program focuses on the following research streams:
- Forest Ecosystem
- Supports studies related to different forest formations in the Philippines
- Promotes the use of landscape approach in forest management
- Supports pilot studies on effective forest management strategies
- Enhances urban biodiversity
- Sustainable Livelihoods
- Promotes the sustainable livelihood approach, starting from the assessment of the existing sustainable livelihood assets of the communities to the assessment of sustainable livelihood strategies
- Supports studies on sustainable financing mechanisms, such as ecotourism, PES scheme, REDD+, etc.
- Policies and Partnerships
- Supports the research on forest-related policies and their implications to forest management and sustainable livelihood
- Assesses existing governance systems, co-management, and partnership mechanisms
- Knowledge Management, Communications, and Advocacy
- Supports participatory action researches on development communication in forestry and natural resources management
- Enhances understanding of the role of women and youth in forest management
- Documents indigenous knowledge systems and practices
- Special Topics
- Examines the medicinal uses of tropical forest plant life
- Establishes the link between forest and health
The Philippines is facing a rapid decline of forest cover – from 27 million hectares down to already as little as 7 million hectares. Along with the combined threats of logging activities, population growth, increased agricultural activities, and mining in biodiversity-rich areas, such as Sierra Madre, Palawan, Samar and Leyte, and Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental, the country is losing approximately 47,000 hectares of forest cover every year, according to the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The Philippines is losing forest cover at an alarming rate. If people do not take action, the forests may not be around for the young generation to see.
Best Friends of the Forest Movement
In 2018, Forest Foundation Philippines issued a call to action for students, conservationists, environmentalists, and nature lovers alike as it launched its youth-advocacy campaign, the Best Friends of the Forest Movement (#BFFMovement). The #BFFMovement’s mission is to engage and empower the young generation to take up the mantle of forest conservation and protection. All you need is one thing to be a BFF – you have to have the passion to take action and champion our forests.
To achieve its goal of promoting forest conservation and protection, and building a community of advocates, the #BFFMovement taps into youth passion points, such as Ecotourism, Arts and Culture, Social Entrepreneurship, and Environmental Conservation. Through activities such as nature trails, talks, and workshops, the Foundation engages the BFFs to openly share their passion and take them right into the heart of the action to help raise awareness and inspire their friends to champion the conservation and protection of the forests.
#BFFMovement: Year One
In its first year, the Foundation gathered the support of many outspoken conservation advocates and has gotten the attention of young people looking for ways to make the world a better place.
The first BFF talk was held on July 28, 2018, entitled Creation, Conservation, and Communities, with forest conservation advocates and certified Best Friends of the Forests Jen Horn and Niccolo Jose. They talked about how the arts can be a platform for forest conservation and protection. As artists themselves, Jen and Niccolo expounded on the power of the arts in raising awareness on environmental issues and stirring people into taking action for forest conservation and protection. Partner organizations, such as Bambike, Woven Crafts, Philippine Coffee Alliance, and the National Museum, were also there to lend their expertise on social entrepreneurship and conservation.
Then there’s the BFF Trail Event that took a group of young environmentalists, travel enthusiasts, artists, and nature lovers on a hike through the La Mesa EcoPark where their guides, UP Mountaineers Lee-Ann Canlas and Fredd Ochavo, helped them appreciate the biodiversity of Philippine forests. They also learned the nuances of conservation, the danger of invasive species, and the importance of birds in biodiversity with University of the Philippines Professor Gerry de Villa.
In 2019, during the International Day of the Forest, the BFF Movement celebrated its first anniversary by organizing a fun and informative activity advocating for the forests with BFFs and fellow nature lovers: a “Treevia” Night.
#BFFMovement in the Focal Landscapes
In 2021, amid the pandemic, the Foundation saw the #BFFMovement grew from a few conservation enthusiasts to include more young people from various parts of the country. Forest Foundation awarded a grant to Edukasyon.ph, the leading educational technology platform in the Philippines that aims to empower more than 20 million Filipino Gen Z youth to make self-aware education decisions that lead to a fulfilling life, to cascade the #BFFMovement in its focal landscapes, or the country’s most critical forests.
A free asynchronous online course was developed for young students to improve their knowledge on forests. More than a hundred BFFs were invited to join a series of online talks, featuring Forest Foundation grantees Bayan Academy, Cynthia Bauzon-Arre, Philippine Parks and Biodiversity Conservation, and The Ateneo Wild, to inspire students to start and pursue their own conservation journeys by tapping into their passion points.
Aside from these, a mentorship program with the Foundation’s grantees was also staged. Young students, from Bulacan State University and Nueva Vizcaya State University in Sierra Madre, Western Philippines University in Palawan, Eastern Samar State University, University of Eastern Philippines, and University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College in Samar and Leyte, and University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines, Central Mindanao University, and Xavier University in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental, were given a chance to be mentored by Forest Foundation grantees, Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Mark Raquino of Daluhay Daloy ng Buhay, Juvilyn Salazar of the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, and Val Amiel Vestil of the Association of Young Environmental Journalists, to craft their own forest protection and conservation projects. The implementation of some of these projects will be supported by the Foundation.
The more BFFs, the bigger the difference that the group would be able to affect. The #BFFMovement aims to continue to grow a community of young forest protection and conservation advocates who support the cause beyond special events and activities, making it a natural part of their lives.
Be Part of the #BFFMovement
There are a lot of ways to help protect and conserve the forests. You can do this by helping:
- Grow forests. You can participate in tree-growing activities, and report incidents of illegal logging and poaching to the proper authorities.
- Grow livelihoods. It is important to strike a balance between development and conservation. Using wood and other non-timber forest products meaningfully and responsibly from sustainable sources enables us to meet our current needs, while protecting our forests for the future generations. This also enables the continuity of economic opportunities for the forest-dependent communities.
- Grow partnerships – We can’t do it all. It’s important to work with other people and groups in this endeavor. You can support other efforts or even organize your own activities to help protect and conserve our forests.
- Grow advocates. By simply living the advocacy and sharing your passion for the forests can go a long way – you can already help spread awareness and bring new advocates into the fold.
What part will you play to save the forests? Take action now with the BFF Movement! Sign up for the free online course here.
If you have a conservation project in mind, apply for a grant here.
For other partnership opportunities, please send us an e-mail at [email protected].