Conservation International Philippines - Population Environment Project
Since 2002 the CI Philippines Population Environment Project has implemented an integrated Population-Environment program that demonstrates the link between reduced population pressure and improved biodiversity conservation. In the northern Sierra Madre Biodiversity Corridor, CI Philippines works with local partners and local government units (LGUs) to help the Indigenous People (IP) groups and others in remote upland communities to understand that having smaller and healthier families will improve their living conditions. The project provides these remote communities access to desired basic services that foster healthy families, while improving capacity of families and communities to manage forest resources.
There is a growing popular realization that uncontrolled population growth is driving the destructive exploitation of forest resources and is an important root cause of increased frequency and severity of natural disasters. Native upland forests are threatened by the encroachment of human settlements, and the resultant conversion of forest into upland agricultural plots through slash-and-burn cultivation is one of the principal causes of habitat loss in the Sierra Madre. Both in-migration and high fertility have led to the expansion of existing settlements and the creation of new ones in the upland regions where primary forest remained. Decreases in migration notwithstanding, the people who moved to the region remain living on subsistence farming, largely in poverty with high fertility rates, and minimal access to government services including Reproductive Health and Family Planning (RH/FP). Livelihood prospects are deteriorating because of lack of alternative employment opportunities, poor knowledge of sustainable forestry, minimal conservation awareness and lack of political will to enforce forestry regulations.
The project combines integrated natural resource management and RH/FP services and education with holistic, community-based activities that empower local residents to improve family welfare and safeguard their environment. Working with its local partners, CI builds on-the-ground capacity to manage activities that link reproductive health and family planning services functionally with natural resource management in general, and biodiversity conservation in particular. CI also assists managers of forestland concessions with revision and implementation of their forest management plans, ensuring that the plans balance the needs for resource extraction with protection of critical habitat and threatened species. And CI helps maintain other ecosystem benefits such as watershed protection and a safe, steady water supply.