COLORADO – Three visitors from the province of Apayao in the Philippines are spending seven weeks working with Forest Service staff as part of a training program designed to support the province of Apayao in community-based forest conservation work that aims to protect the critically endangered Philippine eagle while sustainably managing forest resources for local use. Two of the visitors are from the provincial government and one is from the Philippine Eagle Foundation, a local non-government organization. The International Programs office organized their visit, which runs from July 1 to August 18 and includes time in both Colorado and the southeastern U.S., in close coordination with Forest Service host units.
In Colorado the visitors are splitting their time between the Hahns Peak-Bears Ear Ranger District on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, and the Salida Ranger District on the Pike & San Isabel National Forest. Missy Dressen, wildlife biologist on the Medicine Bow-Routt NF, and John Dow, forest planner on the Pike & San Isabel, are coordinating their time on each Forest. The visitors are
working with multiple specialists on each Forest to gain skills that will contribute to their ongoing forest management and conservation efforts in Apayao, including forest planning, wildlife monitoring and management, protected area management, timber management and recreation.
In the southeast, the visitors will work with the Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis program based out of Knoxville to learn Forest Service approaches to forest inventory and participate on FIA field crews. Tom Brandeis, supervisory research forester, and Sam Lambert, SDS/GIS Forester, are organizing their time there.
When they return to the Philippines the visitors will continue their work in conservation of the 170,000 hectare forest area in Apayao, which contains some of the largest remaining tracts of undisturbed lowland dipterocarp forest in the Philippines. These rare tropical forests provide the last remaining refuge for many endangered plant and animal species and also provide natural resources needed by the local communities. The province is ultimately seeking a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve designation for the area and have created a task force led by the provincial government with the support of the Philippine Eagle Foundation. This training in the U.S. will significantly contribute to these efforts.