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Morong Aytas declare 6,600 hectares of ancestral land as conservation zones

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MARKING THE start of this year’s National Indigenous Peoples Month, the Magbukun Ayta Indigenous Peoples (IPs) of Sitio Kanawan in Morong, Bataan declared portions of their recently awarded territory as Indigenous Communities Conserved territories and Areas (ICCAs). The event was supported and attended by officials from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Philippines, and other partner civil society organizations. UNDP-Philippines, in a statement, said the ICCA Declaration “is part of the IP group’s bid to protect important cultural and biological sites within their ancestral domain from destruction and degradation.” The Magbukun Ayta’s ICCA is estimated at about 6,600 hectares of land, more than half of the area covered by their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT), which was awarded in June this year. “We’ve seen an increase in encroachment and illegal settlement from outsiders in recent years. This ICCA declaration is one of the ways we’re pursuing to address the issue and to protect the environment from further damage,” Chieftain Rodelio Tamundog is quoted in the statement. The Ayta Magbukun ICCA Declaration is a culmination of more than a year of documentation-related activities, including boundary delineation, 3D and digital mapping, resource inventory, and indigenous knowledge, systems, and practices documentation. The Magbukun Ayta’s ICCA is planned for inclusion in the global ICCA Registry hosted by the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre and at the National ICCA Registry upon its launch later this year.