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Forest Policy and Economics 22 (2012) 3 – 8 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Forest Policy

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Forest Policy and Economics

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Traditional forest conservation knowledge/technologies in the Cordillera, Northern Philippines

Leni D. Camacho a , Marilyn S. Combalicer b , , Youn Yeo-Chang c , Edwin A. Combalicer a , Antonio P. Carandang a , Sofronio C. Camacho a , Catherine C. de Luna a , Lucrecio L. Rebugio a

a College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna 4031, Philippines

b International Cooperation Division, Korea Forest Service, Daejeon, 302-701, Republic of Korea

c Department of Forest Sciences and Research Institute for Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University, 599 Gwanangno, Gwanak-gu, Seoul, 151-921, Republic of Korea

article info

Article history:

Received 29 November 2009 Received in revised form 11 April 2010 Accepted 1 June 2010 Available online 14 July 2010


Cordillera Forest conservation technologies Gen-gen Indigenous/traditional knowledge Lapat Muyong


In the Philippines, indigenous knowledge has been recognized to contribute to sustainability of production systems, having been validated for their technical and scienti c soundness by many investigators. It was in 1992 that the Philippine government gave recognition to the potentials of indigenous knowledge systems following the Earth Summit in 1992. Prior to this, scientists/researchers, development workers and lawmakers in the Philippines were preoccupied with their craft seeking modern ways of doing and accomplishing things. Cordillera in the Northern Philippines is a host to many indigenous cultures like Isneg, Kalinga, Bontok, Kankanaey, Tingguian, Gaddang, Ayangan and Tuwali, Kalanguya or Ikalahan, Ibaloy and Karao whose traditional knowledge systems were subject of many studies and investigations. The paper describes the different knowledge systems for natural resources management in the Cordillera as practiced by the people with different beliefs, culture and traditions. The paper showcases different resource conserving experiences in these cultures like muyong and ala-a systems of the Ifugaos ; lapat among the Isneg and Tingguians; inum-an, gen-gen, day-og, balkah, kinebbah, tuping and pamettey of the Ikalahans . These knowledge systems have been practiced by the indigenous peoples in the Cordillera and have been transmitted from generation to generation, making their way of life in harmony with their physical and social surroundings. While c ulture is environment speci c, adoption/transfer of some indigenous technologies that may be tting to other cultures and communities, with a little modi cation to suit their needs, can be done.

© 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Knowledge and practices concerning nature include knowledge, know-how, skills, practices and representations developed and perpetuated by communities in interaction with their natural envi- ronment. These cognitive systems are expressed through language, oral traditions, attachment to a place, memories, spirituality, and worldview, and they are displayed in a broad complex of values and beliefs, ceremonies, healing practices, social practices or institutions, and social organization ( UNESCO, 2007). Traditional ecological knowledge represents experience acquired over thousands of years of direct human contact with the environ- ment ( Armstrong et al., 2006). Although the term came into wide- spread use in the 1980s, the practice of traditional ecological knowledge is as old as ancient huntergatherer cultures. In addition to ecology, the study of traditional knowledge is valued in a number of

Corresponding author. Tel./fax: +82 104109 2292. E-mail address: marilyn_sabalvaro@yahoo.com (M.S. Combalicer).

1389-9341/$ see front matter © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/j.forpol.2010.06.001

elds. For example, in agriculture, pharmacology and botany (ethnobotany), research into traditional knowledge has a rich history. In fact, in comparison to these elds, the study of indigenous knowledge in ecology is relatively recent ( UNESCO, 2007). The scope and objective of the paper are to describe the different knowledge systems for natural resources management in the Cordillera, northern Philippines ( Fig. 1 ) as practiced by the people through their different beliefs, culture and traditions. The paper showcases resource-conserving experiences like muyong and ala-a systems of the Ifugaos; lapat among the Isnegs and Tingguians; inum- an, gen-gen, day-og, balkah, kinebbah, tuping and pamettey of the Ikalahans.

2. The Philippine indigenous people

The Philippines is composed of more than 7100 islands and islets reaching to about 1854 km from north to south. It is an archipelago endowed with abundant natural resources, a rich history, diverse cultures, and many ethno-linguistic groups. According to Molintas, (2004), the Philippines is the only country in Asia that has ofcially


L.D. Camacho et al. / Forest Policy and Economics 22 (2012) 38

et al. / Forest Policy and Economics 22 (2012) 3 – 8 Fig. 1. Map showing

Fig. 1. Map showing the different locations of ethnic tribes in the Cordillera, northern Philippines.

used the term indigenous peoples. Of the more than 87 million Filipinos, about 12 to 15 million are indigenous peoples, or about 17 22% of the total population. The Episcopal Commission on Tribal Filipinos distinguishes approximately 40 ethno-linguistic groups with

a population of about 6.5 to 7.5 million. The National Council of

Churches in the Philippines estimates some 60 such groups. According to Tunay ng Alyansa ng Bayan Alay sa Katutubo (TABAK) ( Molintas, 2004), there are more than 40 ethnic groups that comprise the Philippine indigenous population, and these can be classied into six groups excluding the Islamic groups. The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) identies 95 distinct tribes, which includes the Islamic or Muslim groups, in 14 regions of the country with an estimated population between 12 and 15 million members ( Molintas, 2004). The data of Kalipunan ng Mamamayang Katutubo ng Pilipinas (KAMP) roughly classied these tribes into seven groupings, namely:

Mindanao Lumad, Cordillera People, Caraballo Tribes, Agta and Aeta/ Negrito, Mangyan of Mindoro, Palawan Hill Tribe, and Muslim Groups. Molintas further explained that indigenous peoples' communities can be found in the interiors of Luzon, Mindanao, and some islands of Visayas. They either withdrew to the hinterlands in the face of colonization or they stood their ground successfully and have main- tained a close link to their ancestral past. These communities comprise a diverse collection of distinct languages and cultures. The indigenous peoples in the Philippines continued to live in their relatively isolated, self-sufcient communities, at the time when most lowland commu-

nities had already been integrated into a single colony under Spain in the 1700s and 1800s. They were able to preserve the culture and traditions

of their ethnosor tribeas reected in their communal views on land,

their cooperative work exchanges, their communal rituals, their songs,

dances, and folklore. Instead of hierarchical governments, each of these communities had its own council of elders who customarily settled clan

or tribal wars to restore peace and unity. But with the long years of colonial rule in the Philippines, from the

1700s to the early 1900s, and the in ux of migrants into indigenous peoples' territories, many in uences have been introduced that gradually changed the indigenous way of life. Indigenous communi- ties at present are still characterized by these phenomena but are denitely no longer in their pure and natural state, showing varying degrees of in uence from outside culture ( Molintas, 2004).

3. The Ifugao's system of forest sustainability

3.1. The muyong system

The inhabitants of Ifugaos have developed a unique way of life, reected in the way they grow and tend forests. This unique system of tending forests has been referred to in the literature as the muyong system,coined from the local dialect meaning forest or woodlot ( Butic and Ngidlo, 2003). The muyong system has been recognized internationally as an ideal forest management strategy that is deeply ingrained in the culture of the Ifugao people ( Fig. 2 ). The muyong system can be viewed from different perspectives, either as a forest conservation strategy, a watershed rehabilitation technique, a farming system or an assisted natural regeneration (ANR) strategy. While the system can be viewed from different perspectives, the role of culture in the development and continued maintenance of the system is pervasive. Although not readily

maintenance of the system is pervasive. Although not readily Fig. 2. Muyong as a traditional forest

Fig. 2. Muyong as a traditional forest management of the Ifugaos for the long-term sustainability of the rice-based terrace cultivation system.

L.D. Camacho et al. / Forest Policy and Economics 22 (2012) 38


apparent to the casual observer, an intricate web of relationships exists between the human and non-human resources of the system, which move to a higher sphere in the spirit world ( Ngidlo, 1998 ). Ifugao culture and laws revolve around their physical environment, expressed in customs and taboos prescribing the treatment and use of environment and natural resources. Commonly, muyongs are privately owned and inherited from their ancestors. This mode of ownership is highly recognized in the community. Muyong plays an important role of providing fuelwood, construction materials, food and medicines ( Butic and Ngidlo, 2003 ). Dacawi (1982) reported that the typical muyong consists of a few hundred square meters to about 5 ha. In addition, Klock and Tindungan (1995) discovered that in Mt. Amuyao (the second highest peak in Ifugao) the standard muyong woodlot ranged from 0.6 to 2.4 ha. The muyong is a storehouse of both ora and fauna. An investigation conducted by Rondolo (2001) found that the muyong contained 264 species, mainly indigenous, belonging to 71 plant families. Euphorbiaceae was the most dominant family followed by Moraceae, Meliaceae , Leguminosae, Poaceae, Anacardiaceae and Rubia- ceae. The number of species per woodlot ranged from 13 to 47 species, mostly endemic in the region. Out of the 264 species, 234 were considered useful and the rest (mostly grasses) were reported to have no known use ( Ngidlo, 1998). The muyong is a major component of the production system serving as the primary recharge zone. It provides stable supply of water to the other components of the production system. The quality of terrace cultivation and the condition of the entire watershed area depend on the water that is coming from muyong. Ifugaos are responsible for the proper management of muyong for the sustain- ability of the cultivation system. Wood for carving is the other major raw material derived from the muyongs. Items carved included religious relics like Bulul (the Ifugao rice god), household utensils and artistic gurines ( Serrano and Cadaweng, 2005). Butic and Ngidlo (2003) strongly emphasized that muyong is living proof of the Ifugao's knowledge of silviculture, agroforestry, horticul- ture and soil and water conservation. The Ifugaos successfully practiced ANR before its recognition in the forestry sector as a strategy for forest regeneration. ANR is conducted to grow regenera- tions unhampered by other natural vegetations. The Ifugaos attribute value to the forest on the basis of their cultural ways and practices.

3.1.1. Implications of muyong system The Ifugaos have aptly shown that ANR can be used effectively to transform woodlots into multiple-use centers without disturbing the pristine condition of the natural forest. Butic and Ngidlo (2003) described factors related to the success of ANR within the Ifugao landscapes that are linked with economic and environmental values. ANR strategies are integrated with economic values. These can be enhanced when linked to the prospects of getting prots in the future. By modifying natural stands, the Ifugaos obtained benecial effects of tree-based agroforestry schemes. There is a need to consider the economic value of trees as the main goal of forest regeneration. The ANR supports other environmental concerns. For example, ANR in the muyong serves to support both the economic activities of the inhabitants and the integrity of other agroecological zones de- pendent on the forests. Unlike many reforestation projects where the rallying point is the support to macro-economic structures such as hydroelectric power sources and other concerns of general welfare, muyong caters more on local and community concerns as it is difcult for local communities to see the values of such assertions. The Ifugaos' need for more wood raw material for the expanding wood carving industry which pose a threat to muyong stability could be addressed by demand-focused ANR activities. Such activities can be oriented to assisting natural regenerations of trees demanded by woodcar-

vers as well as supplemental planting of the same species as nec- essary. The traditional practice of selectively cutting mature trees with careful regards to other young ones can further boost the system's sustainability.

3.2. The ala-a system

Aside from the privately owned muyong , communal forest management system is also important in the context of traditional forest management like the ala-a system. The ala-a is generally located on lands not cultivated as swidden; lands too far to be covered by a private claim; or lands identied as hunting grounds. The ala-a is communally managed forest intended for collecting fuel, construction materials, food, medicine and other products that may be used in the household or farm. Unlike the muyong , ala - a forests are not systematically maintained to improve the vegetation. Boundaries are not very clear, which can often be a source of conict. People who go to the ala-a are expected to brush off weeds, cut branches which hamper the growth of younger trees, remove debris and dry branches, which are prone to res ( See and Sarfati, 2001 ). However, use of the ala-a is controlled with a consensus that the resource has to be shared. There are two basic rulesno burning, and no gathering beyond what is personally needed. The ala-a was not perceived as sources of wood for sale outside the village. No new trees are planted in the ala-a ( See and Sarfati, 2001). With the commercialization of woodcarving, people started to harvest trees within the communal areas to generate cash income ( Elazegui and Combalicer, 2004).

4. The Isneg and Tingguian's system of forest conservation

4.1. The lapat system

Lapat is a form of forest protection strategy implemented by the Isneg and Tingguian people of Abra Province. The lapat is a system of regulating the use of natural resources among its upland tribes ( Paredes, 2005 ) and is passed on from generation to generation since time immemorial ( Enriquez, 2002). The practice of lapat highlights the imposition of taboo within a

designated area, over a period of time, which prohibits the ex- ploitation of natural resources in these areas. These areas maybe forest stands where rattan vines and lumber are regularly gathered, a shing section of the river, a forest area where swiddening or hunting is carried out, or the prohibition of gathering the fruits of certain tree is practice ( Prill-Brett, 1997). The declaration of forest areas under lapat enables natural recovery of the forest from earlier anthropogenic disturbances allowing trees and other plants to regenerate and wildlife to reproduce.

A whole mountain can be put under the lapat for two years or

depending on the estimated time the mountain needs to regenerate and replenish. The ora and fauna in the area should not be touched during this period ( Paredes, 2005 ). Examples of lapat include prohibition of hunting female wild pigs and allowing only seasonal collection of certain sh species and wild vegetables. Because of this practice, the Tingguians are able to sustainably manage their natural resources and continue to obtain benets for them and the future generations ( Paredes, 2005).

4.2. Protecting environment for lapat

In the Province of Abra, the town Bucloc is one of the areas that

rmly implement the lapat system, which is grounded on customary and local laws. The residents are aware of the location of the area needing protection for a certain period of time and which plant or animal species are to be conserved. While all stakeholders have the responsibility to protect the lapat area, a sirin is designated to observe and check that the law is observed.


L.D. Camacho et al. / Forest Policy and Economics 22 (2012) 38

To make sure that the lapat system is enforced, the community residents elect or sometimes informally recognize the elders called lapat panglakayen to oversee the implementation of lapat for the agreed upon time frame. The lapat panglakayen crafts policies and regulations as well as sanctions and punishments for the offenders and impose nes depending on the nature and severity of the environmental "crime". In order for all the community members to know which areas are nailapat, the bagawas ritual is performed. The ritual that is performed by an elder consists of a prayer, and offering of basi (sugarcane wine) and a white chicken. To make certain that the area is known as nailapat by the nearby villages, cattle, carabao or pig is slaughtered and the meat is shared with them. Ban in the cutting of narra, Pterocarpus indicus Willd. trees for ve years in a certain area, is an example of lapat agreement to allow the trees to grow in the area.

4.3. Harmony between lapat and existing government policies

Paredes (2005) contended that the lapat system makes the jobs of the government personnel/of cers easier and in areas where lapat is strongly administered; forest protection is not a problem. The policies imposed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the practice of lapat blend harmoniusly that makes implementation of government policies on forest protection easier. Continuing the practice of this traditional system of taking care of the forest greatly complements the implementation of government forest policies. In the Province of Abra, the permit to cut trees is issued by the lapat pangkalayen . This permit is issued to community members who need lumber as raw material for house construction or for making furniture. But when the lumber is transported outside the area for commercial purposes, the DENR should issue the permit ( Paredes,


5. Traditional production and water conservation technologies/knowledge of the Ikalahans

The Ikalahans otherwise known as Kalanguyas is a subgroup of the Ifugao tribe. They live in villages and settled comfortably in the Caraballo Mountains located about 250 km north of Manila and 7 km of the Santa Fe highway in Nueva Vizcaya Province. As a result of years of struggle in defending their land from greedy speculators since the early 1960s, the Ikalahans have learned to love and value their farms and nurture their productivity (Dolom and Serrano, 2005). The Ikalahans are also known for their traditional knowledge and practices being employed to preserve the productivity of their lands. These include inum-an, gen-gen, day-og, balkah, kinebbah, tuping, and pamettey or pangkal ni bigih. The traditional farming practice of the Ikalahans is called Inum-an. In making an Inum-an several steps are being followed the rst of which is the selection of the site whose main considerations include:

the fertility of the soil, ease of clearing the site, and nearness of the site to the owner's house. Second is clearing of the site usually done during the dry season which involves felling or cutting down of undesirable trees, shrubs and other vegetations. The third step is burning of the felled trees, shrubs and other vegetative usually done at the center of the clearing to prepare the area for planting. Barker (1984) explains that burning accomplishes three things: vegetation is cleared to allow planting, ashes provide fertilizer and, a good seedbed can be prepared. The fourth step is the planting of ubi ( Ikalahan term for sweet potato or Ipomea batatas), cassava, corn, taro, beans, ginger, bananas, sayote, pigeon pea, and tiger grass (for making brooms) at the onset of the rainy season, usually in the month of May. At about the same time, in an adjacent, usually smaller eld, women also planted upland rice with the help of the male members of their households. Women dropped rice grains in holes punctured on the ground by the men. The fth step is weeding which is done whenever the Ikalahan farmers

noted grass or unwanted vegetation growing around the planted seedlings. The sixth step is harvesting of the crops particularly camote or sweet potato four to ve months after planting which continues up to ten months with the use of a dopdop well-rounded, pointed iron) a special digging tool used by the Ikalahans. The last step in making an Inum-an is fallowing which is done by the Ikalahan farmers when their swidden farms yield low crops. The low yield does not justify the efforts taken to dig for camote or other tubers. Thus, allow their areas to be left untilled for 1015 years depending on biological (soil and climate) and management ( re and pest management) factors and population pressure. The Ikalahans practice soil conservation through terracing called gen- gen. This is combined with composting to ensure replenishment of soil nutrients through time. In their traditional farming, sweet potato is their usual main crop.When the planted sweet potatoes are ready for harvest, Ikalahan women will select the good stems that will be used as the next season's planting materials, three days before the harvesting operation. These planting materials are cut and are stored in a shade to prevent wilting and encourage sprouting. Then the sweet potato will then be harvested, roots, tubers, leaves and vines. The tubers will be used as food while the roots, leaves and vines will be used to make the gen-gen. The rest of the biomass is then buried in a contour trench dug across the face of the eld resulting in a series of contoured humps that looks like a mini-terraces and lled with composting materials which provide fertility to the soil while preventing soil erosion (Dolinen, 1995). Today, the gen-gen has been improved by the Ikalahans by planting tiger grass or pigeon peas on the humps. Day-og is another ancient practice of the Ikalahans similar to composting. According to Rice, 1997, the Ikalahan's way of making day-og is to rst make a hole of 3 square meters and about ten inches deep. The hole is then lled with grasses and leaves and sometimes manure, if there is any. The excavation will then be covered with the same soil removed earlier. Planting of sweet potato and other vegetables is done immediately or a few days after the day-og preparation ( Dolinen, 1995 ). For soil and water conservation, the Ikalahans use Balkah or beltin the local tongue. It is a form of vegetative terracing planted principally with tiger grass (Dolinen, 1995). Vegetative terracing requires planting and growing of plant species for controlling soil erosion. The distance between each balkah depends on the slope of the area, hence, the steeper the area, the closer the balkah. The tiger grass is planted along the contours and through time will form a semi- terrace structure. Tiger grass is a source of raw materials for making soft brooms and later provides additional income for the family. Fallowing is also practiced by the Ikalahans. Kinebbah is the Ikalahan term for fallow, which is literally leaving the eld uncultivated and allowing grasses, shrubs and trees to proliferate the area. In the traditional Ikalahan system, kinebbah takes 15 years ( Rice, 1997). Kinebbah is practiced by the Ikalahan farmers to let the inum-an recover its fertility ( Dolinen, 1995). Another soil and water conservation practice is tuping a local term of the Ikalahan for riprap or rockwall. Rockwalls are structures consisting of stones and rocks piled up along the contour of a hillside to provide barrier for downward movement of soil and water. Tuping involves mosaic-like tting and piling of rocks on top of each other to form a retaining wall ( Dolinen, 1995). Lastly, the Ikalahans has this homemade pesticide used to remedy plant pests and diseases. It is called Pamettey or pangkal ni bigih. The Ikalahans use ash, red chili and certain local plants with bitter and unpleasant taste as ingredients. Some of the local plants used to eliminate pests and diseases are opey (a woody vine), lahwik (a tree), tuwal (a tree), and hallingaw (a shrub). Also, a valuable weed locally called panawel( Agerentina adephora) is a good and tested pesticide that when composted and applied as a fertilizer to sweet potato, eliminates the potato weevil that destroys their crops by as much as 40% ( Dolom and Serrano, 2005).

L.D. Camacho et al. / Forest Policy and Economics 22 (2012) 38


6. Threats, issues and concerns

The muyong owners are now practicing enrichment planting to enhance depleted muyong areas. While many would like to use indigenous tree species, muyong owners have no other recourse than exotic species, since seedlings of native species are rare to nd. However, some muyong owners are deliberately using fast-growing species for ANR or enrichment planting to take advantage of the short rotation periods. The use of fast-growing species like Gmelina arborea Swietenia macrophylla and Cassia spectabilis is a threat to muyong biodiversity. It is recommended that research be conducted on the mass propagation of native tree species for enrichment planting in muyong areas. There have been instances of inappropriate approaches being encouraged by development projects, supposedly to help muyong owners cope with the various problems besetting the wood carving industry of the Ifugaos. For instance, there have been cases where muyong owners were tempted to clear portions of their woodlots for replacement with exotic tree species. In some cases, local people were taught to clear muyong forests for tambo or tiger grass production, or to implement sloping agricultural land technology (SALT), which is completely alien to what the people have been doing in the area. The world's famous Ifugao Rice Terraces (IRT) are integral elements of the muyong system. The rice terraces are dependent on this system for its source of irrigation water. The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, inscribed in 1995 as a cultural heritage, were included in the World Heritage in Danger list in 2001. The rice terraces are a concrete evidence of the Ifugaos sustainable communal system of rice production, based on harvesting water from various muyong systems that have survived the test of time. Over the last 50 years, however, the size of the cultivated terraces had signicantly shrunk, from 15,000 ha to just about 5000 ha today, and the reasons are alarming. In 2003 survey, local ofcials mentioned that one-third of the rice terraces in the Barangay of Bangaan in Banaue is already damaged ( Cagoco, 2006). Some of the threats to the IRT include the lack of an effective site manag ement authority and adequate legislation; lack of a nalized strategic site management plan; declining interest of the Ifugaos in their culture and in maintaining the terraces; and the lack of human and nancial resources ( UNESCO, 2005). The changing system of muyong management that impacts on the integrity of watersheds supplying water to the terraces also undermines its sustainability. In the case of the lapat system forest conservation in the province of Abra, it is recognized by the Philippine DENR as a forest protection strategy, and is more effective than imposition of government policies. The occurrence of pilferage in the area by those who were not informed that the area has been nailapat is a threat to the forest protection policy. In the past, according to Dolom and Serrano (2005), the biggest threats in the Ikalahans were the conversion of their ancestral land into other land use and maintaining their cultural identity. However, these were resolved through legitimization of their rights over the ancestral lands and through establishment of Kalahan Educational Foundation (KEF), respectively. The legitimization of their rights gave them complete control and authority to manage natural resources within their reserve while KEF inculcated Ikalahan history, mores and traditional practices effectively to the students to prepare them in managing their forest resources. The Ikalahan has successful tradi- tional forest management practices that are still being practiced now and they became a role model in some of the programmes of the government like community-based forest management (CBFM). The Ikalahans have a sophisticated system of forest management where they delineated the forests into different functions, such as conser- vation, income-generating and environmental service purposes. The water conservation technologies practiced through time by the Ikalahans have been improved by intercropping tree crops in swidden

to expedite fallow, gen-gen, day-og, carbon sequestration, and Forest Improvement Technology (a systematized cutting method patterned after indigenous processes to expedite forest growth) ( Rimando, 2006). The community members are encouraged and supported to continue their organic farming methods. They also run a food processing unit where they sell harvested fruits from their production forests to generate cash for their basic needs (Corpuz et al., 2009). All these practices were found to be effective in improving the productivity of the land and in enhancing the quality of forest growth. The main challenge now is to maintain these practices and to ensure that these will be transpired to the next generation.

7. Comparative/common perspectives among different traditional

forest conservation technologies in the northern Philippines

Among the different indigenous peoples in the northern part of the Philippines, several variations of agroforestry management and development have evolved. In the Ifugaos, the concept of sustainable forest management based on terrace cultivation system either privately (muyong) or communally ( ala-a ) owned is being practiced. In case of the Isnegs and Tingguians, they adopt the strict form of government to guard and preserve their environment and to regulate the use of their natural resources. On the other hand, the Ikalahans use several indigenous practices to protect their forests and to earn a living. The settlement patterns, climate, socio-political organization of the settlements and the vegetation in the area have something to do with these variations. But according to Dolom and Serrano (2005) , among the ethnic tribes in the northern part of the Philippines, the Ikalahans are distinct because of their strong sense of entrepreneur- ship. They see immense opportunities in their own resources and creatively pursue these with ingenuity. In addition, while many ethnic communities are known to live harmoniously with nature, being content with their traditional knowledge system, the Ikalahans have gone a step further by learning about and practicing more ecologically friendly and sustainable agroforestry skills, e.g. planting alnos ( Alnus japonica (Thunb.) Steud. to restore soil fertility and to use as fuelwood and quality timber. As a whole, the community groups in the northern part of the Philippines have developed a system of caring for the land and forests. This occurrence is rooted in their common concept of land. The land, forests, rivers and other natural resources were held in common by the tribe or indigenous inhabitants of a speci c area since time immemorial.

8. Conclusions and recommendations

Indigenous cultural communities in the Cordillera are increasingly being inuenced by the larger and mainstream Philippine society affecting the manner by which they managed resources and distorting the natural balance between the community's needs and the capacity of their resource to produce these needs. Thus, there are threats to the integrity of their communal resources. Coupled with increasing population, the demand for resources soars while the xed quantity of resource barely copes with the increasing needs. Nevertheless, without much intervention from the government, the communities were able to sustain the practices. As there is now a law in the Philippines respecting the customary laws and traditions of indige- nous peoples, it is but proper to seek the consent of these people when introducing new technologies aimed at further improving some aspects of these traditional systems. Likewise, it would be wise for the government to look into these systems and see how they can be applied in other areas where other upland settlers can benet from this knowledge. While it is true that culture is environment specic, adoption/transfer of some, but not all, indigenous technologies that may be appropriate to other cultures and communities, with a little modi cation to suit their needs, can be


L.D. Camacho et al. / Forest Policy and Economics 22 (2012) 38

done. For example, the practice of swidden farming can be transferred to other mountainous regions within the country. However, such a practice will involve highly specialized techniques requiring intensive skills training. Therefore, exposure to areas where it is practiced and supported by relevant institutions are necessary. Moreover, the lapat system of forest management is relatively easy to replicate and its transfer to other communities to regulate the use of natural resources is feasible only if there's a strong political will. Indigenous forest management systems as practiced in the Cordillera could be very good models in promoting forest sustain- ability. Perhaps it is time for government ofcials to listen to the people in the hills, like the indigenous peoples who obviously possess time-tested solutions to some problems. The forest management approach adopted by local people treats forest as a lifeshedwhere human existence is connected with land, forest and water.


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