Philippines

Forest cover in the Nueva Vizcaya region of the Philippines declined from 85 percent to 25 percent from the early 1980s to the early 2000s due to legal and illegal logging. The Philippines government undertook the Trees for Legacy Program, which included several measures to involve the community in reforestation and watershed protection. It used the country’s Local Government Code of 1991 to co-manage local forests with local government units. The program increased land and forest tenure for local citizens and offered financial incentives for communities to participate actively in forest planting and preservation. Public participation in local government planning and government increased as civil society was given more opportunities for input. Poverty incidence in the province dropped from 52 percent to 3.8 percent by the time the project ended in 2004. In addition, programs were put in place to help increase financial management at the local level, improve health care, and take care of disadvantaged populations, such as the deaf and blind. Forest fires were virtually eliminated, and there was a marked improvement in water supply for domestic use and irrigation. The local congressman wrote that the project’s success lay in pairing the technical expertise of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with the oversight and implementation skills of the local community.