Starting in September 2017 and completed in March 2018, the Carood Watershed Model Forest (CWMF) Management Council in the Philippines undertook a Forest Landscape Restoration Mechanism (FLRM) pilot project with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), to combat specific land and resource degradation issues, forming firebreak lines, constructing water-collection reservoirs and improving access roads.
The Carood Watershed in the Province of Bohol, the Philippines, spans 101,887 hectares of diverse lands, from coastal mangroves to agriculture. It includes steep slopes and is about 10% forested. The area covers seven municipalities with a population of 230,000 in 2015 and an average income of approximately USD 120.50 per month. The landscape faces challenges including wildfires, erosion, siltation, floods, water-delivery shortages, rural poverty, and unsustainable farming and fishing practices.
Local stakeholders formed the CWMF Management Council in 2003, later joining the International Model Forest Network (IMFN) in 2010, to help establish sustainable governance practices, increase climate change resilience, improve access to water and strengthen livelihood opportunities in the area.
The CWMF was identified as a site to pilot the FLRM approach within the Philippines National Action Plan on Forest and Landscape Restoration, supported by FAO via its Technical Cooperation Programme. One main focus of the project was to establish fire lines across 20 hectares of land in an effort to suppress forest fires.
Local communities are being encouraged to use the space cleared as fire lines to cultivate Sisal, a stiff-fiber, fire-resistant plant used in rope-making, or cash-crops, such as cassava. In exchange, local farmers are tasked with maintaining the fire lines.
Another focus of the pilot project was to improve water retention and decrease downstream flooding. The water thus retained will serve for crops and to suppress fire. More than 140 participants were trained over 4 days (pictured, right) to construct and install two water collectors, capable of trapping 450 cubic metres of water.
The CWMF Management Council strongly recommends to establish a monitoring procedure, to measure efficiency and document output. It hopes this project will serve as a showcase and an example for replication elsewhere in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.