Medina—The technical working group (TWG) formed by the Protected Area Management Board for planning of Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park (MKRNP) conducted a technical review and updating of the General Management Plan (GMP). The TWG was composed of representatives from the LGUs of Gingoog, Medina, Claveria and Balingasag; Government Line Agencies, especially from DENR and NCIP; and more participants from the Indigenous Peoples of the three Ancestral Domains within and around the Protected Area than in usual planning activities.
The workshop started with the review and analysis of the data from the Biodiversity Monitoring System (BMS) and the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT) as well as the previous plan. An in-depth discussion particularly on various land-uses and zonings within the Natural Park followed. Indigenous Peoples were provided the space to discuss information from their ADSDPP with the whole TWG.
The output of previous interfacing workshops was a harmonized plan, which was used as the main input to the updating process. In doing this, both the LGU plans and ADSPPs are taken into consideration while updating the GMP. Datu Sulugoon Romeo Lindahay said “the process we have undertaken, from the IKSP documentation which feeds into the ADSDPP is now very much part of the Protected Area Management Plan in which our own allocation of land-use is respected”.
The IKSP documentation and participatory ADSDPP formulation processes which the IPs underwent has led to good relationship among planning teams and has empowered the IPs in getting involved in the planning and management of the Protected Area. According to another IP participant, Marjun Mandamiento, “they are now listening more to us and it also gives us confidence to work with them. All the process we have done did not only encourage us IPs but also made the LGUs and DENR to be more receptive to our ideas”.
The inclusive updating process has led to the realization of some planning challenges on the ground; one of which is ground “truthing” or validation of spatial data. The TWG will now go to the field with the IPs to do the actual survey and geotagging of the areas or zones. Liza Requiña, Supervising EMS of DENR-PENRO of Misamis Oriental, who facilitated the workshop said that “it is really good that we now clearly understand their (IPs) zones like the “Pina” (taboo/sacred areas) and can integrate their practices and plans in the general management plan. We did not find any contradiction as we dialogued with the IP. It is also good that they not only welcomed the use of GPS and other technologies but even insisted to do geotagging and use technologies on the ground”.