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Basis for community participation in the management of the Busol Watershed, Baguio City, northern Philippines Roddan, Christopher Edward


Increasingly government agencies charged with the responsibility of managing public forest lands and their resources are being faced with the reality that there are people living within these forest reserves and protected areas who are utilizing the forests for survival whether or not they have legal rights to do so. Given this reality it will be necessary for the agency to evaluate whether it is possible to maintain a conventional management strategy that attempts to exclude the inhabitants from the management of the resources and in some cases from the forest itself. This entails a determination of whether they are equipped with the social management tools, adequate staffing or funding to maintain a police and protect management strategy. There is also a corresponding need to generate data on the alternatives to their conventional management policies. During the past decades, the alternative strategies have focused on the social aspects of resource management. This has had profound implications for the inhabitants of protected areas such as watersheds. The advent of participatory management processes allows the development agencies and government officials charged with the protection and management of these resources the opportunity to make a strategic decision. They can choose to either carry on with their existing management strategy or enlist the aid of the local residents in the management of the resources. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that local participation in decision making and goal setting is an appropriate strategy for management in protected areas with resident populations. To carry out this purpose the Busol watershed in the Philippines is used as a case study. To date the primary thrust of Philippine forest policy has been to maintain a conventional management program, which historically has not acknowledged the presence and stewardship of indigenous populations. The failure to explore alternative strategies which include forest inhabitants within the framework of forest management and stewardship has limited the response of resource managers in their ability to mitigate disasters for both the forests and its inhabitants. The Busol watershed, a municipal watershed located within the boundaries of Baguio and La Trinidad cities in the province of Benguet, provides an ideal case study to examine the basis for establishing community cooperation and participation in natural resource management. The history of the Busol is representative of the problems facing the entire Cordillera region. The agencies which are entrusted with the management of the Busol are currently confronted with several management constraints within the watershed. These have placed the agencies into a position of having to reevaluate their management policies for the watershed. "Participation" and "participatory management" for the Busol watershed and the purposes of this report are defined as follows: The involvement in peoples development of themselves, their lives, and their environment as a means of achieving self determined change and sustainability (Davis-Case, 1989). It is a process in which the people join in detennining how information is shared, goals and policies are set, programs are operated and benefits are parceled out (Arnstein, 1969). The primary technique used in the collection of data for this research was Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA). Grandstaff and Grandstaff (1985) defined rapid appraisal as any systematic activity designed to draw inferences, reach conclusions, test hypotheses, or make assessments requiring the acquisition of new information in a limited period of time. Rapid Rural Appraisal enables the quick generation, validation and analysis of information. It allows the use of several research methods to gain and assess new information as quickly as possible permitting the progressive revision of questions and hypotheses (Grandstaff and Grandstaff, 1987). The findings of the RRA are organized in two sections. The first section provides a historical background of the Busol Watershed including an analysis of why the municipalities of Baguio and La Trinidad should be pursuing a participatory management strategy. The second section is an analysis of the communities within the watershed, the levels of information exchange and the extent of community involvement in the watershed conservation and management. The 10 bases of analysis utilized in this section were drawn from the literature and case studies on the dynamics of initiating participatory management programs. These bases of analysis are: ethnicity, existence of local organizations, grouping, geographic location, current levels of communication, database structures and distribution, levels of understanding inside and outside the watershed, planning, implementation, and distribution of rights and benefits.

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