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Indigenous forest guards trained on environmental laws, processes

MATI CITY – Eighteen Tonggo nang Kagul’langan (Forest guards) from the Mati and Tarragona ancestral domains in Davao Oriental recently completed a comprehensive training program focused on environmental laws related to ecological legal processes at Don Enrique Lopez, Mati City, on Feb. 12-13, 2024.

Organized by Kennemer, in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) XI and Indigenous Peoples Structures of Manay and Caraga municipalities, the training aimed to enhance the forest guards’ understanding of critical legal frameworks vital to their roles in safeguarding the environment.

The training sessions covered various topics, including environmental legislation, enforcement procedures, evidence gathering, and case management strategies. Speakers were from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Mati City. This initiative plays a pivotal role in equipping forest guards with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively protect their ancestral lands and contribute to environmental conservation efforts in the region.

Gualberto Cagunan, the municipal tribal chieftain of Mati City, thanked the Tonggo nang Kagul’langan’s significant contribution to strengthening forest conservation endeavors. He emphasized the importance of community-based approaches in promoting sustainable practices and maintaining ecological balance in Davao Oriental’s ancestral lands.

The training marked another milestone in the ongoing efforts to empower indigenous communities in Davao Oriental. In November 2023, a similar training program was conducted for forest guards from Manay and Caraga ancestral domains, capacitating 20 indigenous forest guards. These initiatives underscore the commitment of all stakeholders to enhance the capacity and effectiveness of local forest protection efforts.

Moreover, the training was essential for forest guards to be deputized by the DENR, further empowering them to enforce environmental laws effectively.

The forest guarding initiative is critical to the Mindanao Forest for People and Sustainable Livelihoods project (MinFor). The project engages with indigenous communities in Davao Oriental through forest conservation and protection, sustainable livelihood, and socio-cultural/community well-being activities. The primary objective of deploying forest guards throughout the province is to strengthen efforts in combating deforestation and safeguarding natural resources. By ensuring the monitoring and surveillance of the forest areas within their respective ancestral domains, these forest guards will play a crucial role in protecting the rich biodiversity and cultural heritage of Davao Oriental.


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