Multidisciplinary Lanscape Assessment


Some results and experiences

Although analyses are still ongoing, a varied range of results is already available from the different surveys, including databases, reports, a model, and 'lessons learned' in general.


The village area covers 3.458 Ha. The northern part of the village's territory is limited by the Kaaldawan, the eastern part is limited by the Lumangob Mt, the southern part is limited by the Barangay Tanabag and the western part is bordered by the Kapuyan creek.


The Bataks house at Kalakwasan village

The Bataks house during swidden farming

The team encountered 33 Batak families staying in the village of Kalakwasan, with a total of 136 inhabitants. The Bataks are still semi-nomadic with only few families living in Kalakwasan. Most stay alongside the Tanabag River to work in their gardens and look for forest products. The majority of the Bataks in Kalakwasan are Evangelical (74%), while 5% are Protestants, 5% Catholic, with the remaining 16% still following the religion of their ancestors. The Batak is the main ethnic group of Kalakwasan. The two other ethnic groups represented are Tagbanua and Visaya. The languages used are Batak, Tabagnua, Tagalog and Cuyonen.

Approximately 27 inhabitants are under 5 years old and 109 inhabitants are above 6 years old. Around 56 people have followed some education curriculum, 43 people haven't followed any curriculum, and 10 people are following an "informal education" conducted by the National Government from Manila under the Department of Education Culture and Sports, since November 2004.

Most of the Bataks stay in Kalakwasan, but during the swidden farming they scatter in small groups to the different areas upstream from the village, along the Tanabag River. Only some Bataks stay in the village to take care of their domestic animals.

Bataks are still relying on forest resources. Almaciga is now a considerable resource for cash earning for the Bataks. Honey and rattan are still harvested in small amounts and the wild pigs are becoming scarce. According to the Bataks, many people (including outsiders) have tried to hunt wild pigs, often using pig bombs, and to collect honey for cash earning.

Rattan still important for cash earning for the Bataks 

Several special sites in the village area are protected from any disturbance from local people and outsiders. The Bataks believe that there are unseen people (ghosts) living there who assist by protecting these places.

On the first few days of our presence in the village we worked with the villagers to draw a map of the landscape, with local names of rivers and places, and the locations where main resources are found. This Participatory Mapping exercise was done by four groups: old women, young women, old men, and young men. The four initial maps created by these groups were then combined into one. Participatory Mapping was an important step to the building of a common understanding of the Batak territory and resources.

12 sample plots were sized in each category of landscape that were recognized and named by the Bataks (see the following map). In each plot, information was collected about the trees, like diameter, name, high, furcation index and distance from the centre of the plot. Information was also gathered regarding non-trees, the history of the site according to the Bataks, the ecological description of the site, and all local names and uses of the plants collected and described. From the plant collection, all identified specimens could be divided into 85 families, 150 genus and 110 species (with 14 families and 53 genus unidentified). Only 56 species couldn't be identified. The entire specimen collection has been left at the Herbarium of Puerto Princessa University. No herbarium specimen has left Palawan Island , in accordance with national regulations.

Click here to see original map


Click here to see original map

459 different local names were given to the collected plants during plot sampling, and it was discovered that the main use for these plants was medicinal (mostly for the herbaceous). According to the Bataks, among all the plants we collected together and identified, only 30 were irreplaceable for the same use if lost, or 'not substitutable'. This result is influenced by the fact that our main informants during field activities were babalian or a midwife.

Babalian or medicine man of the Bataks people

For the Bataks the uses of the forest resources are still very important, and they retain diversified knowledge about plant uses. A lot of categories of uses are represented in each plot that was sized, but medicine remains the main use. Even though this information is influenced by the fact that most of the time a babalian accompanied a part of this specific knowledge is still shared by a part of the villagers. I don't understand this bit Firewood is also a common use for most of the tree samples, even if the Bataks rarely go far from the village to collect it. I don't understand this either.

Scoring exercises were used and indicated that forest is the most important land type for all categories of use. Forest is the place where the Bataks get useful resources like plants and animals, for their livelihoods, and for cash earning. Agathis resin, rattan, and honey were among the species collected. These findings are surprising considering the Bataks' semi-nomadic lifestyle, but the establishments of a more permanent settlement in Kalakwasan may have influence their response, as it reveals heir perception of landscape. The Bataks has valued the natural forest as the most important forest type for most of the categories of uses. They can easily collect the main forest products (plants and animals) for their livelihood. and it is the best place for hunting, especially wild pig. In their teritory, resources on plants and animals are still abundant. They still use the traditional rules to collect forest resources.

Forest landscape at the Kalakwasan area

Other important results from the scoring exercise was the identification of the most important species. The Bataks gave scores to the top ten "most important" species of plant and animal for each category of use.

The website of the project is:

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