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Leonard G. Reyes showcases through photos how Fauna & Flora International works with the Agta people to help conserve Philippine rainforest.
The Sierra Madre mountain range in Luzon is one of the few remaining intact areas of primary rainforest in the Philippines. It is a key biodiversity area and one of the pilot REDD+ sites for the whole country. The REDD+ Community Carbon Pools programme is working to conserve this impressive landscape through community resource management and empowerment.
The Agta-Dumagat-Remontado, collectively known as Agta, are hunter-gatherers who have inhabited the islands for at least 35,000 years. Today, around 9,000 Agta live along the coasts and in the tropical rainforest of the Sierra Madre mountain range in north-eastern Luzon.
The Agta are a nomadic people who have depended on both the sea and the forest for survival for thousands of years.
Traditional skills such as fire making are in danger of disappearing as Agta communities become more dependent on the economic system of the lowlanders.
Agta culture is being continually ravaged by the forces of change. Traditionally dyed clothing made from wood bark is now only worn on special occasions.
Charcoal production has become one of the drivers of deforestation in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Deforestation threatens the livelihood of the Agta.
The empowerment of indigenous communities through meaningful participation in resource management is a key strategy used by Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) Philippine Programme.
This clip is from ‘Keeper of the Forest: The Agta of the Sierra Madre Mountains’. For the full video please visit here.
The forests of the Sierra Madre Mountains provide important non-timber forest products such as wild rattan and nipa palm which the Agta use to produce crafts for household use and to supplement income.
Tatay (Father) Erning, one of the village elders, believes the Agta are in the best position to look after the forest as they have a deep respect for it and all the creatures seen and unseen that reside within it.