Dipaculao Egongot Indigenous Community Conserved Area

The Dipaculao Egongot ICCA is managed by the Egongot indigenous people (people of the forest), with the aims of conserving natural resources within their ancestral forests and ancestral waters, while preserving their culture and traditions and improving their quality of life and livelihoods.

This ICCA forms part of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, considered the longest mountain range in the country with the most critical watershed areas. The Dipaculao Egongot ICCA is special because of the intact forests which still possess many endemic and indigenous forest species, with at least 24 globally threatened species. For these reasons, it is listed as a Key Biodiversity Area and a Conservation Priority Area. It is also home to several impressive waterfalls, some of which are popular among trekkers and others of which remain unexplored. There are beaches and extraordinary reefs that are havens for divers and are claimed by the community as part of the ICCA.

The community’s efforts conserve a diverse range of species, some of which are critically endangered, endemic, or of vital cultural importance. Simultaneously, the ICCA protects sacred places, habitats used by breeding species, and at least ten watershed areas that are vital sources of water for human consumption and agriculture beyond the ICCA. The community’s traditional practices, such as designating areas where no natural resources can be extracted, have enabled species populations to remain stable, and species diversity in previously-logged areas has increased.

The formal declaration of the ICCA took place on 23rd March 2019, when a ritual was held to celebrate its establishment. The ICCA covers the whole of the ancestral domain around the municipality of Dipaculao, which has been awarded a certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT #R02-NAG-0703-0012). The ancestral domain is shared with other members of the Egongot, Ilongot and Bugkalot Indigenous Communities that reside across three provinces (Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Aurora provinces). The CADT was awarded on 26th July 2003, and covers 1,397 km2.

The declaration of the ICCA is part of the project titled “Strengthening National Systems to Improve Governance and Management of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Conserved Areas and Territories”, otherwise known as the Philippine-ICCA Project, which provided on-site support to various indigenous communities in the documentation, mapping and formulation of Conservation Plans.

Recent activities have included the organization of an Indigenous People’s organization (IPO) called the Dipaculao Egongot Tribal Association (DETA), Inc. This organization will enable the community to access funds and mobilize resources for the implementation of their plans. They have also linked up with the Agricultural Training Institute for the establishment of a coffee nursery, coffee plantation and coffee bean production. Likewise, the women have collaborated with another IPO from Aurora Province who have provided them with a training on weaving bags, mats and other products using a native plant material called sabutan (Pandanus sabotan).

The Tribal Council members have been invited to, and are participating in, various events and conferences on biodiversity conservation, providing the potential to forge partnerships with local government, national government agencies and non-government organizations.

Despite these opportunities, the ICCA still faces threats from logging, poaching and encroachment. Looking to the future, the community intends to strengthen the enforcement of rules and regulations, while ensuring that livelihoods are supported across the community.