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AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT
ISSUE THREE 2017 PARTNERS
Project impacts have been broad, reflecting the
project's scope. Along with the capstone pilot
community-based reforestation in Biliran, the
project also ran several field trials looking at the
environmental benefits of reforestation.
The role trees play in improving water within
communities, for example, was shown through the
analysis of paired catchments in Basper and Manobo.
Planting trees improved base flow in streams
throughout the year by improving infiltration. That
was a significant impact---few other areas in the
world have made similar findings. These infiltration
benefits came into sharp focus when Typhoon
Haiyan tore through the paired catchment sites.
While devastating, it provided a rare opportunity to
gather important information about the reforested
site compared to its denuded counterpart.
"We were able to demonstrate the trees
significantly buffered the impacts of the typhoon,"
Professor Herbohn says. "The reforested catchment
had much lower peak flows, with more water
absorbed into the soil, and suffered far less erosion."
In the wake of the typhoon, analysis of long-
term research sites planted with varying tree
species also provided vital information about
reforestation design: "We found native trees suffered
in general less damage than exotic species and that
mixtures, particularly of native species, fared a lot
better than monocultures of introduced species."
Another important lesson is that it is better to
reforest smaller areas and do it well than to try
to plant larger areas and do it poorly. This means
putting money and effort into building capacity
in communities and ensuring benefits flow back
In the next phase, researchers intend to examine the
best way to replicate lessons from Biliran in other
communities without necessarily having a resource-
intensive project team in place for every step.
Project findings will also start to have an
international impact, for example, informing the
International Union for Conservation of Nature's
(IUCN's) Bonn Challenge, which aims to reforest
350 million hectares worldwide by 2030.
Meanwhile the Biliran community has been so
successful that the DENR has given it additional
nearby land to reforest as part of its greening
program, which will be managed by the PO with
ongoing input from the Filipino collaborators who
are heavily engaged with the community.
For all its work on social issues, the focus remains
to simply "grow trees better". This includes learning
how to grow the large number of native species that
produce high-quality timber and understanding the
combinations of species that perform best together.
Further work is also needed on production
systems for subsistence farmers since the
investment in research, capacity building and
production is integral to the success not only of
forest rehabilitation, but their own survival.
"Reforestation cannot simply be viewed from
the biophysical perspective nor from the social
perspective alone," Professor Herbohn says. "It's
really about how trees and people interact." n
ACIAR PROJECT: ASEM/2010/050: Improving
watershed rehabilitation outcomes in the Philippines
using a systems approach
MORE INFORMATION: John Herbohn,
STRONGER COMMUNITIES PROSPER TOGETHER
A newly expanded extension program shows that in areas vulnerable to conflict, building a
more resilient social fabric supports economic prosperity
BY MELISSA MARINO
An extension model associated with a rapid increase
in economic prosperity and social cohesion has been
trialled in areas vulnerable to conflict in western
Mindanao and will now be scaled-up through further
The Livelihood Improvement through Facilitated
Extension (LIFE) model has been piloted in a
program led by Noel Vock over the past four years
in collaboration with RMIT University, The Landcare
Foundation of the Philippines Inc (LFPI), University of
the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) and University of the
Philippines Mindanao (UP Min).
Based on its success improving livelihoods, the
project managed by Melbourne's RMIT University will
continue until March 2019 through partnerships with
four local agencies: the Consortium of Bangsamoro
Civil Society representing part of western Mindanao's
Muslim minority, two municipal extension agencies
and an agricultural training college.
Talks are also under way to test the model through
a national government agency, the Philippine Council
for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources
Research and Development (PCAARRD), which would
allow for it to be introduced in other areas affected by
"This presents us with the opportunity to widen
out the extension model at both the local and regional
level and potentially nationally," says Mr Vock. "And if
we can be successful at that national level then it's a
very significant outcome for the ACIAR project."
Working across six communities in western
Mindanao, Mr Vock's initial project---co-managed
by Dr Ken Menz and Mary Johnson and delivered on
the ground by LFPI, the UPLB and the UP Min---saw
livelihoods and social capital improve significantly.
"Not only did farmers earn more, it also
strengthened linkages within the community that
make them more resilient and potentially able to deal
with conflict if it arises," Mr Vock says. "And links with
local extension agencies were also improved, which is
"WE WERE ABLE TO
DEMONSTRATE THE TREES
SIGNIFICANTLY BUFFERED THE
IMPACTS OF THE TYPHOON.
THE REFORESTED CATCHMENT
HAD MUCH LOWER PEAK
FLOWS, WITH MORE WATER
ABSORBED INTO THE SOIL,
AND SUFFERED FAR LESS
-- Professor John Herbohn
PHOTO: ROGELIO TRIPOLI
A member of the people's organisation measuring
a tree's diameter during training on the selection of
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