Expanding and Diversifying the National System of Terrestrial Protected Areas in the Philippines (NewCAPP)

What is the project about?

IslandBongao, Tawi Tawi, one of the protected areas in the Philippines. To date, a total of 2.6 million hectares representing some 117 protected areas within the identified key biodiversity areas are under legal protection. (Photo: WWF Philippines/Aisa Lim)

The importance of the Philippines in the world terrestrial biodiversity map rests in it being one of the seventeen mega-diverse countries which host 70-80% of the world’s life form. Despite this fact, the mammal assemblage in the Philippines is the 8th most threatened in the world, with 50 threatened species, and the country continually faces critical threats on biodiversity preservation.

The major threats facing the Philippines’ terrestrial areas include: habitat degradation and land conversion due to logging and increasing population; overharvesting of resources; mining threats and infrastructure development. The country’s National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) has been the main government response to place important biodiversity areas under effective management. It provides the legal framework for the establishment and management of protected areas pursuant to NIPAS Act of 1992. 

To date, a total of 2.6 million hectares representing some 117 protected areas within the identified key biodiversity areas are under legal protection. However, the implementation of NIPAS has certain weaknesses. The barriers that limit the effectiveness of the Philippine Protected Areas system in conserving globally significant biodiversity are:

  1. bio-geographical representativeness;
  2. limited capacity for protected areas management; and
  3. limited financial sustainability.

The expansion of NIPAS to recognize new conservation areas such as those managed by indigenous people, local communities and local government units is seen as an opportunity to accelerate the coverage of the existing system, before the important key biodiversity areas are overtaken by these threats. In partnership with key organizations, local communities and other stakeholders, the Project will directly address key barriers and establish solid foundations for accelerated expansion of the terrestrial system in the Philippines, supported by strong management capacities, and sustainable financing.

Three major outcomes are envisaged out of these partnerships:

Outcome 1:    Protected area system of the Philippines has been expanded under new and diverse management regimes (ancestral domain, local government and community managed areas) to cover an additional 400,000 hectares of key biodiversity areas and with enhanced potential for further expansion;

Outcome 2:   Improved conservation effectiveness through enhanced systemic, institutional and individual capacities; and

Outcome 3:   Enhanced financial sustainability of the terrestrial protected area system.    

What have we accomplished so far?

After almost three years of implementation, the following achievements have been made:

Outcome 1: Protected area system of the Philippines has been expanded under new and diverse management regimes

  • Two governance models are being tested under NewCAPP to expand conservation coverage: (i) establishment of local conservation areas (LCAs) to be managed by the LGUs; and (ii) recognition of indigenous community conservation areas (ICCAs) within ancestral domains of indigenous communities. The Project’s experiences and methods are now being considered in another GIZ funded Project, the Protected Area Enhancement (PAME), as its key strategy in establishing new conservation areas.
  • The Project has been successful in establishment of a network of 7,921 hectares in Polillo as LCA under the LGU-managed regime; through the enactment of local ordinance. Demarcation of LCAs has been done, and local community volunteers and LGUs are working in collaboration to protect and manage these areas.
  • The Project’s efforts in pilot testing of ICCA procedures has resulted in the successful registration of 7,115 hectares of ICCAs (Idsesenggilaha of the Menuvu IP community in Mt. Kalatungan, Bukidnon and Maalagay Dogal/Matilo of the Ayta Abellen Community in Cabangan, Zambales) at the global database at UNEP/WCMC (http://www.iccaregistry.org/).
  • An estimated additional 230,705 hectares (181,806 hectares from ICCAs and 48,899 hectares of LCAs) of conservation areas are expected to be established by end of Project.
  • Documentation of procedures in ICCA and LCA establishment are being made to successfully replicate the approach in other sites.
  • Subnational Workshops on ICCAs were held in November 2011. Attended by almost 200 IP leaders throughout the country, these events confirmed that ICCAs still exist in many forms, these are under serious threats, and that these could be effective instruments for achieving the twin objectives of BD conservation and upholding IP rights.
  • A National Conference was held in March for IPs participating in the subnational Conferences to present the state of ICCAs in the Philippines, and seek support. The result was overwhelming support from international organizations and national agencies; as well as a Manila Declaration indicating the intents of IPs in the pursuance of ICCA agenda in the Philippines.
  • The Project helped propel the Philippines internationally with best practice examples in recognition of ICCAs. The Project supported the Philippines’ active participation in global events (World Parks Congress in Jeju, South Korea; CBD CoP11 in Hyderabad, India and World Indigenous Network Conference in Darwin Australia), sharing its strategy and approach to recognition of ICCAs, which helped shape international policies and priorities. In partnership with CBD, Global ICCA Consortium, UNEP-WCMC, local NGOs and the Philippine delegation, interventions were made at the CBD discussions and side events which resulted in clear statements by CBD in supporting ICCA recognition as a means to implement Article 8(j) and its importance in achieving Aichi targets.
  • The Project is helping set up a National ICCA Consortium, in keeping with the Manila Declaration. A Founding Event was held in February 19-22, 2013 to define the vision, mission, and objectives of the Consortium, as well as key elements of the National ICCA Program.

Outcome 2: Improved systemic, institutional and individual capacities

In improving overall capacities in the management of the national PA system, the following have been accomplished:

  • Validation of Capacity Assessment undertaken during project preparation was completed, and a Capacity Development Program was developed.
  • The Project is helping establish competency standards (CS) for workers in the sector in partnership with the Philippine Forestry Educators Network (PFEN). Validation of the draft standards are on going. The partnership with PFEN is expected to strengthen the link between sector requirements and curriculum offerings of the academe.
  • A PAMB Operations Manual is being prepared to provide guidance to all PAMBs on the extent of their roles and how these are to be carried out.
  • The implementation of the BMS was assessed, and key constraints in institutional arrangements, staffing, budgeting and usefulness in influencing decisions of PAMB and adaptive management planning were identified.
  • The Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice (KAP) baseline study for DENR and LGUs has been completed and communications plans prepared.
  • Technical discussions were organized in cooperation with PAME to strengthen criteria for prioritization of expansion of national PA system.
  • A document entitled “State of Protected Areas Management Report” was produced by the Project. This was the first such comprehensive report issued after 20 years of NIPAS implementation. It traces the nation’s conservation history, the importance given to the role of communities in PA management, and the challenges it faces in the expansion of the PA system. The report was successfully launched in the presence of development partners, civil society and academe; and internationally – during the side event in Hyderabad, at the occasion of CoP11.

In strengthening capacities of local partners to achieve conservation objectives in the sites, the following were carried out:

  • Capacity development is embedded in the work of the project in working with NGO partners, regional DENR offices, IPs and LGUs in conduct of BD assessments and resource inventory, preparation of conservation management plans, and enhanced forest land use plans of LGUs. For 2011-2012, the Project’s various capacity development activities reached about 3,400 participants (1,779 female; 1,722 male) who were trained in various technical and managerial topics.
  • Cross visits to ICCA pilot sites were carried out to demonstrate and share experiences in ICCA documentation.  It reinforced their commitment and interest to undergo the process. For some communities, the cross visit erased lingering doubts and misperceptions on the importance of ICCA recognition.
  • In preparation of the implementation of other ICCAs in Luzon (Banao and Balatoc tribes, Mts. Irid Angilo, Mt. Iglit Baco, and San Felipe, Zambales), a training was organized in November 2012. IP local researchers, DENR field staff, LGU representatives, partner LRPs were capacitated on ICCA concepts, resource inventory and carbon monitoring, survey instrumentation, and data analysis.

Outcome 3 : Improving Financial Sustainability of National PA System

  • A study on National PA Financing was completed, and key bottlenecks and recommendations were given to improve prospects of utilizing existing financing mechanisms. Specific reviews of three PAs were also made.
  • A review of IPAF utilization and status was made and a Technical Report was prepared. Proposals were made to streamline and simplify IPAF procedures, and provide venues for exchange of practices across sites.
  • To implement the above recommendations; partnership with DBM and BTr was made to streamline and standardize processes, clarify requirements, and develop templates and reporting and monitoring forms. Confusions and causes of delays were also identified. The output of such partnership was an IPAF Handbook which was developed and used in IPAF trainings.
  • Five IPAF cluster Trainings were organized, participated in by about 120 PAs, to develop their capacities for revenue generation, improve understanding of IPAF processes and requirements, and strengthen links with DENR Finance offices, DBM and BTr.
  • Technical Bulletins were issued to clarify and set certain standards in reporting ad monitoring of IPAF; also improve coordination in review of proposals.
  • Technical assistance was provided to the PAWB to access Php 30 Million from WB-GEF NPS ENRMP to support 18 sites in improving PA financing capacities. The project is now ongoing, with expected completion date of December 2013. A NewCAPP site – Mt. Kalatungan, is among those to be covered in the technical assistance.
  • An addendum to the Department Order on Special Use Agreements in Protected Areas (SAPA) was prepared to increase levels of revenues in collection of development fees in PAs.  This has been submitted to DENR.

Partnership Building

Partnership is a key strategy of the Project. Among the key partners include CBD, Global ICCA Consortium, and UNEP/WCMC, UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme, NCIP, GIZ – Protected Area Management Enhancement Project Philippine Forestry Educators’ Network (PFEN), Ateneo School of Government (ASoG), PTFCF, EMB, University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG),  DBM and BTr, and Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD).


Donor name Amount contributed
Global Environment Facility USD 3,500,000


2010 USD   127,968
2011 USD   843,106
2012 USD 1,062,880

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