Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: The Case of the Ikalahan Forest Carbon Development

The case was presented on 20 October 2009 during the 3rd IFAD-Philippines Knowledge and Learning Market, Mandaluyong City. Please see the following link for the actual slide presentation:

Ecosystem services (ES) have tremendous importance but they are rarely valued or, worse, they are not valued at all because the environment is almost always taken for granted. Since nature has been provided for free, everyone thinks that he can take everything he wants from the environment without paying for it, thus resulting to the decline of this very precious natural resource.

To be able to address this, the concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) was born to give value and importance to nature by paying the people who are actually taking care of it. PES, according to Wunder, is a voluntary transaction wherein an ES or a land-use that is likely to secure that ES is being provided by a seller, and is being bought by a buyer if and only if the seller continuously provides the service (i.e. the concept of conditionality).

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one of the most popular PES schemes. CDM is the only flexibility mechanism that involves participation of developing countries through the reforestation and afforestation of their degraded areas to act as sinks for carbon, which can result to the adaptation and mitigation of climate change. Crucial to the CDM process is the product design document (PDD), which determines if the project can qualify or not.

Kalahan, which is located in the Province of Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines, has been selected by RUPES (Rewarding Upland Poor for Environmental Services they provide), as a site to pilot-test forest carbon development. The Ikalahan Ancestral Domain (IAD) is the home of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Kalaguya and Ikahan, where they formed themselves as the Kalahan Educational Foundation (KEF) to battle out their rights of tenure to the land.

Kalahan has a great potential for forest carbon development. For instance, they already identified 900 hectares of denuded lands and grasslands, with an estimated carbon sequestration of around 90000 tCO2/20 years. Their strategy is community-based management employing forest-tree plantation and agroforestry farm development. The direct implementers would be the IP land/parcel owners themselves, and KEF would be the project proponent.

The World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) through RUPES is extending technical and financial assistance and has helped in the preparation of KEF’s Project Identification Notes (PIN) and estimated the carbon baseline of grasslands and the potential carbon sequestration of the proposed site.

The Mitsubishi UFJ Securities (MUS) offered consultancy services to help KEF in the CDM process, through the PDD preparation up to the project’s application and registration to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC).

There are many challenges facing KEF, which include: 1) Coming up with a PDD, 2) actual field implementation, 3) project maintenance and monitoring.
So with these challenges, can KEF do it?
According to Emma Abasolo, “Yes they can! Kalahan has a great potential for forest carbon development. With IFAD, through RUPES’ financial and technical assistance, KEF has the potential to comply and meet the requirements of carbon markets.”

By KLM 3 Social Reporters: Emma Abasolo, ICRAF and Vherna Castilla, NMCIREMP