No Fire Bonus Plan Program of Mountain Province
(IFFN No. 18 - January 1998, p. 52-56)
Mountain Province is considered as one of the forest fire prone areas in the Cordillera. The three major types of forest present in the province, namely pine dipterocarp and pine forest, play a vital role in the socio-economic development. The dipterocarp stands are located along creeks and rivers mostly in the eastern part of the province, particularly in the municipality of Paracelis and Natonin. The ecosystem of the pine forest comprises the major forest vegetation covering around 53,767 hectares. On the other hand, the mossy forest covers about 37,200 hectares. The pine forest with its open crown and needle grassy understorey renders the availability of fuel during the dry season.
A region-wide special project Forest Fire Management, implemented from 1987 to 1989 has determined that 99% are human-caused. Specifically, these human activities were identified as escaped fires from kaingin debris, garbage burning, arson, and other indiscriminate use of fire within and nearby forested areas. This situation gave rise to the need for a strengthened fire prevention action program. An effective total fire prevention approach shall involve all sectors and encourage the unified effort of communities in preventing the occurrence of fire and the damages that it renders to the environment. Fire brings the most damaging effect to forest resources. As observed, the non-occurrence of fire enables the prolific pine forest to regenerate effectively thereby enhancing forest development. As a result, expanding the forest cover which is at the moment 59% forested reckoned from a total land area of 173,195 hectares. An effective fire prevention incentive mechanism shall ensure that the forest resource be maintained, protected and enhanced, expanded from its present status. The "No Fire Bonus Plan" after having been fully discussed at the provincial level is set for implementation with its corresponding objectives.
Mountain Province, having been categorized as one of the 20 poorest provinces in the country, has brought commitments from local and national leadership to focus development activities in these areas under the present administration's Social Reform Agenda. Included in this program are sustainable development strategies and human ecological security. The socio-ecological aspect of development should then be considered as the main factor in implementing development projects especially in a province with a rugged and mountainous terrain.
The program shall aim to attain various objectives.
General Objectives: To motivate and encourage people participation in the implementation of forest conservation/protection measures against fire occurrences.
- To organize and strengthen community members to enable them to work towards a common endeavour.
- To strengthen the political will of the community and the Local Government Units towards the conservation/protection of the forest resource.
- To incorporate forest conservation/protection initiatives within the development endeavour at the community level.
Specific Objectives: To attain the general objectives, specific objectives are set as follows:
- To limit/prevent if not totally eradicate the occurrence of wild forest fires in every barangay of the province;
- To regulate the use of fire as a tool by farmers through the issuance of a permit to burn their debris so that control measures are ensured;
- To regularly monitor and record the occurrence of fire in each barangay;
- To continuously investigate the causes of fire occurrences and recommend policies to concerned agencies for implementation.
Role of the Political Leadership: The plan aims to provide a coordinative effort between and among the Local Government Units, the community people and concerned Other Government Agencies towards the aforecited objectives. In the attainment of these, the political leadership in the province shall provide the following:
- Coordinate the regular funding of commitments to development funds for the purpose of the plan;
- Determine from the barangay development plans the proposals of all barangays where available project funds shall be utilized;
- Mobilize all barangay communities to participate in the implementation of the plan;
- The provincial government of Mountain Province shall create a selection committee for the selection of No Fire Bonus Plan recipient barangays. The committee itself shall formulate its own criteria and guidelines.
- Facilitate the awarding of projects to winning barangays.
Role of the DENR: The DENR as an office shall act as the secretariat of the program with the following functions:
- Assist the Local Government Units in the solicitation of funds from possible donor agencies;
- Provide technical assistance to barangays on fire control and management;
- Document all proceedings, activities and results relative to the No Fire Bonus Plan;
- Organize and train barangay forest protection brigades and deputize them as Deputy Environment and Natural Resources Officer.
- Provide funds for training and maintenance and other operating expenses of the program;
- Regularly inform the participating agencies/entities on the progress and results of activities undertaken.
- Formulate and implement a burning permit system that shall regulate the use of fire in disposing of debris during the dry months.
Role of other Government Agencies: Other Government Agencies, wherein funds under the program will be coursed through, shall assist the barangays in the facilitation of development project implementation. The Department of Interior and Local Government through its attached agencies shall assist the barangays to avail the program benefits.
Role of Barangay Communities: The communities, through its barangay government, shall have the following responsibilities:
- Mobilize to prevent the occurrence of wild forest fires in their respective communities;
- Mobilize Forest Protection Brigades in their respective barangays;
- Incorporate in their respective barangay development plans the objectives and concepts of the plan;
- Identify development projects that shall be funded under the program and submit the same to the selection committee on or before June 30 of each year upon having been informed as a winner under the plan.
Mode of Implementation
As an absolute requirement, barangays that have not incurred any forest fire in their respective areas of responsibility during the dry season and man-made forest destruction such as illegal logging and illegal occupation within forest lands shall be awarded with development projects worth 200,000 pesos. The program shall adopt a community based approach of development project implementation, wherein the community shall be involved in decision making in the identification, planning and implementation of projects under the plan. The implementation of projects shall include, but not be limited to, environment related projects such as garbage waste disposal, water impounding projects, erosion control measures, etc. The implementation shall have the following processes:
Selection Committee: A selection committee shall be organized. The committee shall be created under the office of the CENRO with membership from participating agencies. It shall have the following functions:
- Formulate and recommend a set of criteria and guidelines for the selection of winners;
- Review and identify development projects of each barangay for the purpose of the No Fire Bonus Plan. Facilitate the release upon identification of the financial requirement of development project funds, the committee shall submit its findings to the provincial governor, who shall in turn inform those who are responsible for the financial aspects and planning of the identified projects;
- Regularly meet to assess the progress of the program implementation and recommend policies to concerned offices that will strengthen and ensure smooth implementation. The committee shall also formulate additional guidelines and amendments of the plan whenever necessary;
- Accept winning entries from the different municipalities and review, verify and deliberate the entries to be recommended as winning barangays who shall qualify as beneficiaries of the program. Only barangays that were able to meet the absolute requirement of NO FIRE shall be accepted as entries under the plan. Also, the committee shall review and recommend the corresponding development projects of the winning entries;
- Submit a list of recommended barangays with their respective identified development projects to the provincial governor within two weeks upon receipt of all winning entries.
Approval of winning barangays: The provincial governor, upon recommendation of the selection committee, shall present the results to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan who shall, together with the governor, approve the winners after a thorough deliberation. Projects that can be accommodated by provincial government funds shall immediately be approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for implementation. Those that are sourced out from other entities shall be recommended to concerned agencies for implementation;
The list of winning barangays shall be officially announced by the provincial government with the corresponding approved development projects and their fund sources by no later than 31 July of each year.
Identification of Development Projects: The identification of development projects for the purpose of the plan shall be prioritized in the following manner:
- Those that are included in their respective approved barangay development plans but have not been appropriated for the previous and current year. A certification from the municipal government as priority project shall be required;
- Those that are not included in the approved development plan but need immediate implementation due to unforeseen considerations in the community. The barangay officials upon the decision of the majority of their constituents, shall recommend them for the project and the municipal mayor shall attest to its urgency.
Utilization of savings from committed financial resources: Since only barangays without forest fires shall be awarded with projects under the plan, there is the possibility of savings to be accumulated as a result of communities that shall not qualify later. These savings shall be pooled together and awarded equally to municipalities where no fire has occurred during the same period. Additional funding that may become available later shall become an augmentation fund as an incentive to the best communities who had shown active participation and other initiatives.
The project management organization shall be comprised by DENR staff taking charge of key designations such as Forest Protection Officer, Forest Engineering and Utilization Officer and Forest Rangers. They shall be responsible, among others, for the technical investigation, survey and assessment of damaged areas.
The management phase shall be implemented through the following:
IEC: Intensive information, education and communication activities shall be conducted in every barangay geared towards the conservation and protection of natural resources. It shall focus on instilling the minds of the people of the importance of forest conservation and the effects on the local national and global environment.
These activity shall play a vital role in environmental awareness and sustainable management of the natural resources.
Organization of forest protection brigades: Forest protection brigades shall be organized in each barangay as the lead organization in the community fire prevention and suppression and the enforcement of policies pursuant to forestry rules and regulations.
Establishment of Monitoring Stations: Monitoring stations shall be established at strategic locations for the monitoring of forestry related illegal activities and other forest resource exploitations. Such stations shall serve as multisectoral stationary field stations to be manned by DENR personnel and volunteer support groups.
Institutional Strengthening: The activity shall be focused on socio-political bodies and LGU capacitation in the enforcement of forest protection activities through training and community meetings/dialogues. Training shall be conducted for those directly involved in the project implementation such as law enforcement and fire control management.
Alongside with the DENR, LGUs shall play an administrative support complementing the plan and transforming these into official functions. Such functions should be instituted as political duties and responsibilities. Beyond its administrative support, the LGUs are confronted with a lack of understanding and eventually become equipped with a full grasp of the concept of sustainable resource management.
Law Enforcement: Created forest protection brigades shall be tasked alongside with local government units to assist in the checking and monitoring of illegal forest activities. Activities shall include investigation, seizure and prosecution. Forest patrol shall also be undertaken to detect illegal activities.
Fire Control and Management: Activities for effective fire management and control operations should be instituted at the local government level. In this, indigenous fire prevention methods shall be strengthened and fully supported.
- Implementation of the NO FIRE program will improve the silting layer on the ground surface comprised of organic substance, facilitate rainwater infiltration and soil fertility.
- Natural regeneration will be relied upon which, in turn, will reduce reforestation investments.
- Attention will be provided for the prevention of forest destruction like illegal logging, forest fires and illegal occupation within forest lands.
- The protection of forest lands will enhance the present wildlife habitat and thereby resulting to improve biodiversity. Such preservation of biodiversity will generate direct and indirect benefits of the local community and the nation as a whole.
- Environmental awareness is enhanced with the participation of the local populace.
A total of 124 barangays from the municipalities of Barlig, Bauko, Besao, Bontoc, Sabangan, Sadanga, Sagada and Tadian shall be the beneficiaries of this program.
A verbal agreement had been made between the political leaders of this province and the DENR for the implementation of the said plan. The program is thereby in the process of identifying the barangays that meet the required categories. This however, is a one year program for CY 1996 hence this proposal for the institutionalization of the project.
The project requires an annual budgetary requirement of twenty six million (26,000,000.00) pesos.
From: Manuel L. Pogeyed
Department of Environment &
Cordillera Administrative Region
# 80 Diego Silang Street
2600 Baguio City