The Philippines: communities manage their resources

In the Philippines, as in most developing countries, poverty is inextricably linked with environmental degradation. The task of reversing this downward spiralling is a formidable one, entailing policy reform, social analysis and scientific research. It is in this context that Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC), a Jesuit science institute, was established in 1997, primarily to undertake scientific and social research. Through collaborative efforts, the ESSC and the AFN (Asia Forest Network) have come out recently with a book entitled ?Communities and Watershed Governance,? a case study of two watersheds in the Visayas region, Philippines. The study, one of a country-wide series, provides important insights into how coastal and upland communities interact with the local and the national governments to develop their own unique approach to resource use and conservation. The result of a long process of field work and discussions, greatly enriched by insightful discussions among national and regional experts, the book documents important transitions: the national government devolving its powers and responsibilities over natural resources to the local governments; the local people and their municipal leaders developing innovative management strategies based on community organisations and drawing on local resources; and the people themselves realizing their own inherent rights and responsibilities to take care of their own natural resources for sustainable development and use. Peter Walpole SJ, Executive Director, ESSC http://www.essc.org.ph ; http://www.asiaforestnetwork.org