March 1, 2021

2021 Partners’ Meeting for Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental: Growing Futures: Sustainable Landscapes, Empowered Communities

Forest Foundation Philippines, in partnership with the Environmental Science for Social Change, its grantee, organized the 4th Partners’ Meeting for Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.

This year marks the end of the implementation of the Foundation’s 5-year Results Framework. With the theme, “Growing Futures: Sustainable Landscapes, Empowered Communities,” the last partners’ meeting served as a platform for grantees and partners to share their lessons learned, best practices, and key strategies in implementing forest conservation projects in the landscape.

Since 2017, the Foundation has been implementing its Results Framework in the forested landscape of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. Its overall, long-term goal is the protection and sustainable management of Philippine forests and its biodiversity. With the Foundation’s support, its grantees have achieved the following from 2017 to 2021 in Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental: Conduct of 10 biophysical assessments; Reforestation of 206,436 hectares of forest lands; Conduct of 12 livelihood-related researches; Growth of 38 forest-based enterprises; Conduct of 50 capacity-building activities; Strengthening of 13 organizations; Conduct of numerous information and education campaigns; and Publication of learning materials and researches.

Sylvia Miclat, Executive Director of Environmental Science for Social Change, shared, “This partners’ meeting is especially significant because it is the end of the Results Framework 2017-2021, upon which all our work, in partnership with Forest Foundation, connect. The realities in the upland forests of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental, as well as the mangrove forests, have both changed and not changed since 2017. Obviously, a major change is the pandemic. What have remained unchanged, on the other hand, is the continuing social inequality and injustice,  the grinding and persistent poverty in the communities we work with, especially in the indigenous groups, the limited livelihood opportunities for the youth that allow them to have a vision of the future, and the limited quality human development that both the local governments and communities desire to improve. The forests, and the biodiversity and communities that live within it, have always been isolated, socially distant, and on perpetual social and economic lockdowns. As we share the lessons that we have learned together, poverty and pandemic must be in our minds and hearts, while being fully aware that the landscape and communities must grow together.”

The meeting also provided space for the Foundation and its grantees and partners to chart potential pathways beyond the implementation of its 5-year Results Framework. Together with government agencies and partners, the Foundation and its grantees shared current challenges in forest protection and conservation, and mapped out potential areas for collaborative action. Aside from these, livelihood products and learning opportunities were also shared during the meeting.

Dennis Rosales, Landscape Coordinator for Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental, remarked, “At the end of the day, we recognize that the government orchestrates the program for the landscapes, but as partners, we’d like to play a bigger role and contribute to this endeavor.” He noted that to sustain the gains of its 5-year program, moving forward, the Foundation, together with its grantees and partners, must synergize and align its projects to attain collective impact.

It was attended by the following government agencies and public universities: Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Department of Agriculture; Department of Trade and Industry; Department of Tourism; National Economic Development Authority; National Commission on Indigenous Peoples; Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in Bukidnon; City Environment and Natural Resources Office in Misamis Oriental; Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council; University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines; and Bukidnon State University. Likewise, ongoing development projects were also invited to present, namely the UNDP GEF-7 Securing Long-term Sustainability of Multi-functional Landscapes in Critical River Basins of the Philippines and Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project.

It was also participated by the Foundation’s grantees in the landscapes: Denise Matias; Catherine Almaden; Le Anh Nguyen Long;; Environmental Science for Social Change; Kitanglad Guard Volunteers Association; Kitanglad Integrated NGOs; Mindanao Integrated Management Foundation; MSU-Naawan Foundation for Science and Technology Development; Non-Timber Forest Products – Exchange Programme Philippines; Philippine Coffee Alliance; Philippine Eagle Foundation; Teach for the Philippines; The Samdhana Institute; University of the Philippines Los Banos Foundation; Xavier Science Foundation; and Xavier University – McKeough Marine Center. In addition, the Foundation’s partners joined the meeting: Association of Young Environmental Journalists and South East Asian Regional for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture.

Forest Foundation Philippines, established in 2002 under Tropical Forest Conservation Agreements signed by the governments of the United States of America and the Philippines, is a non-profit organization that provides grants to organizations that empower the people to protect and conserve the forests.