Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park is a protected area in Misamis Occidental, Philippines. It was the site for a biodiversity research programme (BRP) by Filipino and Dutch natural and social scientists in 1999-2005. As a spin-off of the BRP the Park is now the beneficiary of a massive rainforestation project being implemented by Trees for Travel Foundation and DENR-PAMB with the participation of the local government units and the Park residents.
A socioeconomic monitoring of the rainforestation project is being done to assess how the project improves the well-being of residents – mostly Subanen or with Subanen lineage – in five barangays within the core and buffer zones of the Park. Well-being components focus on employment and income generation, and access to social services such as education, health care, electricity, and potable water. A triangulation of qualitative (focus group discussion, key informant interviews) and quantitative (surveys) data, both primary and secondary, was employed.
Preliminary results show that the gathering and growing of wildlings/seedlings give employment to the local people, increasing the income of workers involved by 20% to 200%, depending on the number of days they have been hired. As a result, workers are able to access safe water, provide electricity to their households, purchase radios and mobile phones, plan for the schooling of their children, and more importantly, have added rice and fish in their diet. Moreover, a vibrant local economy is emerging due to an increase in the purchasing power of households. Men and women are given equal employment opportunity in the project, though only 11% of those hired are women due to the women’s preference to tend to their children, household chores and home gardens.
The introduction of vermiculture to produce organic fertilizers for farms and the project nursery has increased both agricultural output and the survival rate of seedlings. Given the project’s balanced perspective on the Park’s ecosystems and human well-being, residents are increasingly becoming mindful of protecting the Park.