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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

Pathways for indigenous knowledge engagement on marine biodiversity conservation 

PI: Marivic G. Pajaro with co-PI Paul Watts, Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc.
U.S. Partner:  Douglas Medin, Northwestern University
Project Dates: June 2012 - May 2015

Project Overview 

The Philippines is a global priority for the conservation of marine biodiversity. The country is also highly dependent on marine resources, with more than one million people directly dependent upon the fisheries sector. This project is based on the belief that local people using indigenous knowledge are capable of solving many environmental challenges, particularly if supported by their jurisdictions. In the Philippines, moving from an exclusive top-down approach to include a bottom-up approach for coastal resource management has become widely accepted as governments decentralize. Even so, local people remain marginalized on issues surrounding natural resource conservation and management. Larger geographical-scale concepts such as biodiversity may be somewhat beyond local knowledge systems and require targeted learning strategies. This project will address the related need for a cross-cultural understanding of environment and biodiversity in fisherfolk cultures. It builds upon fisherfolk social knowledge systems, historic and contemporary cultural profiles, and consideration of economic and political institutions and practices for linked communities.
Phillipines Partnership Photo 1 
Workshops with local fisherfolk are an ongoing activity.

Phillipines Partnership Photo 2 
The Aurora Province orientation meeting was held with representatives
from each of the eight Municipal Health Offices.

The current knowledge base indicates that Philippine fisherfolk communities develop through a process of allocating and distributing rights over specific resources and places. The researchers heading this project will work with PAMANA, a national alliance of community-based coastal resource managers. The goals will be to develop a protocol for expanding the ecohealth lens to encompass biodiversity conservation within a wide range of fisherfolk communities and to assist them through best practice transfer to be more engaged in their own future sustainability. The project is also intended to facilitate the development of community-based science curriculum for the first Philippine bioregional or biodiversity-based Bachelor of Marine Science program at an academic institution in Aurora Province, northeast Philippines.

Summary of Recent Activities
As of July 2014, Dr. Pajaro, Dr. Watts, and their colleagues have collected about 200,000 of the 240,000 data points that were planned for the project. Leading into their focused Best Practice Transfer (BPT) and Action Research activities, they have initiated or analyzed several supplemental Cultural Consensus Theory (CCT) datasets on bioregional oceanography, socioeconomics, international comparisons on professional environmental action, social process. They are also designing maternal and early childhood nutrition as BPT focus areas. With regard to the three geographical areas that are part of the project, the focus in Aurora Province in recent months has been San Luis Municipality, which is providing some supplementing funding support to extend project efforts. In the Northern Philippine Sea (NPS) bioregion, the comparative dataset is almost complete, with eight provinces done and two in process, and another NPS dataset is nearing completion. Regarding activities with the PAMANA national communities, the team is investing significant time and effort to determine how to engage this diffuse organization both to lead on some BPT and to be recipients of others.

Dr. Watts and Dr. Pajaro have recently published an article in the Canadian Journal of Action Research entitled “Collaborative Philippine-Canadian action cycles for strategic international coastal Ecohealth,” which is available online through the linked title. During the remainder of 2014, they will be completing their collection of primary and supplemental CCT databases and obtaining broad input to develop and pursue plans for BPT activities. In August they will participate in a workshop in Canada focusing on the use of CCT applied to six developing countries.

Back to PEER Cycle 1 Grant Recipients