The usual sight of entire hillsides burning over the slopes and hills above the IP village of Sityo Bignayan and Sityo Kasuyan in Aninuan during the summer season was basically nowhere to be seen this year. The campaign to lessen the burning of trees and mountain grasses during the kaingin season has proven surprisingly effective. Fruit seedlings were given to 30 recipients to pilot the conservation strategy. So far, 17 kaingin sites have been visited for monitoring. Despite the challenging conditions in the mountains, like strong winds and lack of water, we found 284 seedlings thriving among a total of 344 monitored. Water is a particular challenge, as the distance to water sources from each site range from as near as 500 meters to as far as three kilometers. It is, however, unlikely that lack of water will be an issue over the next 6-7 months, as the Monsoon season is here.
During a focused group discussion (FGD) with 10 of the community partners, they confirmed that they have indeed veered away from burning the areas where they planted their fruit seedlings. Not only that, they have also encouraged their neighbors to do the same. This is why there is a marked lessening of burning of trees and grasses in their current kaingin areas. We recently handed out open-pollinated varieties of vegetable seeds to the community to encourage further development of their kaingin areas. Now that the rainy season has come, access to water for their crops is not a problem.