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From knowing to reaping benefits from trees in the Philippines

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By Amy Cruz, originally published at Agroforestry World Blog

1557-12Capacity-building programs are recommended for enhancing farmers’ awareness of the ecosystem services trees provide in the Molawin-Dampalit Watershed, Philippines. A heightened awareness would then influence the farmers to integrate trees in their farms.

A team of researchers from the University of the Philippines Los Baños Institute of Agroforestry and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Philippines found that farmers in the Molawin-Dampalit Watershed in the province of Laguna recognize the ecological and economic value of integrating trees into their production systems. However, the researchers also recommended capacity-building programs to enhance the benefits farmers and others get from trees.

The study was conducted as a part of the ICRAF-led project, Documenting Adaptation Strategies and Coping Responses of Smallholder Farmers and the Role of Trees in Enhancing Resilience at Selected Watersheds in the Philippines, with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees, and Agroforestry. Focus-group discussions and semi-structured interviews were used to identify the socio-demographic characteristics of the farmers and their knowledge of ecosystem services.

Out of the 104 farmer respondents from six ‘barangays’ or communities representing the upland, lowland and coastal ecosystems of the watershed, 59% were aged 51 years-old and above. Most of the farms (75%) were located on public land, with of 90% of these sized 3 hectares or less. Farmers from the lowland areas usually grew annual crops while upland farms had more trees, with only a few annual crops on their farms.

In the discussion groups, the farmers identified ecosystem services they received from the trees planted on- and off-farm. They identified provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services, as categorized by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The research team then classified the provisioning services (such as sources of food and firewood) as the economic role of trees. The regulating (for example, providing shade and oxygen, and regulating microclimates) and supporting services (for example, controlling soil erosion) made up the ecological role of trees.

To enhance the ecosystem services that the farmers recognized through their experience with trees, research, extension and development programs that strengthened the capabilities of the farmers could be carried out.


Read full blog at Agroforestry World Blog

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