SBMA backs Ayta biodiversity project

MORONG, Bataan—The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority will be a partner of the Magbukun Ayta tribe here in their effort to protect and preserve their indigenous environment and culture.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma pledged the agency’s support to the Magbukun tribe on Saturday at the launching of the Indigenous Communities Conservation Area under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme.

The project, which will be implemented with the support of the local government unit of Morong and the Philippine Association for Intercultural Development, places the Ayta tribe at the forefront of conservation efforts since they live in the conservation site, which forms a part of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. 

“We will be giving our all-out support to this endeavor not only because the project will be implemented within the Freeport Zone, but also because we at the SBMA consider environmental protection our fundamental advocacy,” Eisma said at the sidelines of the ceremony.

She recalled that the SBMA has initiated the social-fencing concept at the Freeport to make residents of upland areas in the zone be part of the overall strategy to preserve Subic’s natural environment.

Eisma also noted that the SBMA has been successful in a similar program with the Ambala Ayta tribe at the Pastolan village in the Subic Bay Freeport, for which the agency has been recognized as the best in social responsibility initiative.

“What we have successfully done for the Pastolan Ayta tribe, we also hope to do with the Magbukun folk,” she added.

Under the ICCA program, residents living within or nearby the conservation area will serve as protectors of the environment, while the local government unit will take the lead in implementing conservation and protection activities.

According to the UNDP, ICCAs are spaces de facto governed by indigenous peoples or local communities with evidently positive outcomes for the conservation of biological and cultural diversity.

Some ICCAs are situated in remote ecosystems that have had minimum human influence, while others encompass areas of various regulations and magnitudes within regions strongly affected modified by human occupation.

The ICCAs can be classified as sacred areas or ritual grounds for the indigenous communities residing near it and may include forests, mountains, shorelines, wetlands, fishing areas, and other bodies of water.

The UNDP hopes that through the ICCAs, the continuation, revival or modification of traditional practices or even new initiatives may succeed in protecting and restoring natural resources and cultural values in the face of new threats or opportunities.

Topics: Ayta biodiversity project , SMBA

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