Forests

Forests are important sections of the cultural landscape of the Cordilleras. In the past, people relied on the natural forest for timber. Most villages were built near water systems and away from natural forests. Over the years, people planted woodlots that now form privately owned forests called muyong, pinuchu, or batangan. These forests were created by people to domesticate specific plant species which they needed in the villages. Woodlots are the main source of fuel wood for home use and for use during the performance of rituals. Selected plant species were primarily grown for the construction of houses and for making figurative sculptures, and containers. Rattan and bamboo were grown for use in the irrigation system of the rice terraces.

They were also used in making baskets and backpacks of various forms for specific purposes. Products included baskets, fish traps and containers. Rattan continues to be domesticated and is also valued because of its fruit and its young shoots that are cooked especially during the summer months. Forests are also important to sustain the supply water. Springs from mountain forests were channelled to the rice terraces and to the villages as well. Natural forests were communally owned by the villages and, until recently, were not be privatized. Certain areas in the forests were designated as sacred groves in which the spirits lived.

Text: Prof. Dr. Leah Abayao