Community-based Historical Land Use Map Reconstruction of Infanta, Quezon using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) Activities and GIS Digitizing

On August 8, 2014, the APN PIC-STRAP team, spearheaded by Dr. Damasa Macandog, together with the young researchers of the UPLB Ecoinformatics Laboratory conducted Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) activities in the municipality of Infanta, Quezon. Garnering the support of Infanta Mayor Hon. Rodante G. Potes and the coordination of Mr. Ron Crisostomo and his team in the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (LDRRM) Office, the activity was successfully held with the participation of about 72 local community members, including elderlies, farmers, local government officers (i.e. barangay chairmen) and other members of the community who are knowledgeable on land use and livelihood changes as well as environmental degradation in the villages of Infanta over the past seven decades.

The participatory activities in the PRA encouraged locals from 36 villages in the municipality to impart and share personal knowledge on relevant issues relating to land use, livelihood and environmental conditions in their respective villages. Various PRA activities conducted included Focus Group Discussion (FGD), Timeline and Land Use Map Reconstruction. Focus Group Discussion gathered information on significant events that have influenced land use shifts and environmental degradation such as occurrence of natural disasters and changes in agricultural practices and economic development in the community. These PRA activities also focused on the drivers of land use and livelihood changes that affected environmental, social and economic conditions in the community. Using community-based knowledge, the Timeline activity provided a chronological description of the changes in the community, identifying points in time of natural disaster occurrence, and major land use and livelihood changes over the decades.

Aside from eliciting local ecological knowledge on land use change and environmental issues, another main objective of the PRA activity was to utilize local ecological knowledge to reconstruct historical land use maps. The land use reconstruction activity was led and carried out by the local participants themselves who were representatives of varying age groups and dominated by the elders while the UPLB researchers took the role of facilitators. Through memory recall, people were asked create hand drawn maps that depict how the configuration of the landscape has been changing through time since the 1940s. In cases where there were disagreements on the cartographic details, the participants resolved the issue through active discussion at constructive debates.

The whole municipality of Infanta, having a total of 36 municipalities, was divided into four (4) blocks. Each block has nine (9) contiguous barangays. This was done to effectively manage the large number of attendees. The people were asked to group themselves into four according to the barangays they represent.

Four (4) large maps were prepared prior to the PRA and were intended for use as base maps. Each base map shows the political boundaries of the nine (9) adjacent barangays as well as the river systems. In the actual mapping activity, tracing papers were overlaid on top of the base maps from which the participants drew the maps by hand. The media used were pencil and felt-tip pens.

Bi-decadal maps were produced for each block (Figure 4), namely (a) 1940s to 1960s, (b) 1960s to 1980s, (c) 1980s to 2000s, (d) 2000s to present. This corresponds to a total of four (4) maps per block. All the maps were laid-out side by side over a long table which made it possible for the participants to compare the results instantaneously and apply adjustments whenever they see fit. After the PRA, the handdrawn maps were scanned, georeferenced, and mosaicked. Symbols and icons were re-created in Photoshop where the final map layouts were made.

Through community-based methodologies of PRA activities such as FGD, Timeline and Historical Land Use Map Reconstruction, we can better understand the social, economic and environmental drivers and impacts of land use change. Additionally, land use map reconstruction of such kind serves as a first attempt of the research team to engage local community members in developing maps that reflect historical local knowledge. This activity provides an avenue to understand historical land use changes dating back to times when environmental and land use documentation were sparse and technological advances to produce land use maps were lacking.

Comments are closed.

In cooperation with:
Supported by:
News and updates