Daniel Jason Maches is young, but he has shown unwavering commitment and passion for promoting the conservation of his tribe’s forests in Barlig, Mountain Province and the preservation of the culture of his Lias tribe.
His active opposition to the suspension of a road project that would have opened up the Barlig forests to reckless exploitation gained him malicious attacks on social media, including being red-tagged, called a “communist” many times and dangerously accused of being a New People’s Army rebel.
Despite the attacks, Maches stood firm, still actively participating in public meetings to expose the project’s corruption and irregularities and to go on to organize strong support against the road among forest preservation advocates in his community and even among his tribe’s reputable elders. As a blogger and journalist, he relentlessly exposed the road project’s ills.
On top of his advocacy work he also successfully started an environmentally sustainable: an agroecology coffee farm that is naturally integrated with the forest.
According to Maches, he and his partners were able to buck the citrus industry trend, occurring in his province, where forests are cleared to give way to citrus trees, leading to eventual deforestation.
His coffee farm runs on permaculture practices. Organic matter such as leaves and fallen wild fruit are left on the ground or piled around the base of the coffee plants as a natural mulch to fertilize the soil.
Surrounded by forests, nearby creeks and small brooks and heavy rains especially during the cold months, keep the coffee trees watered. The forest itself fertilizes the coffee and provides moisture, so the soil doesn’t dry out.
To prevent soil erosion, the farm is grown on terraces, on which the coffee is intercropped with ginger, and in the future lemongrass, both of which help hold the soil in place. They are also hoping to attract civets, which are endemic to the area, to be able to produce civet coffee.
These practices used to cause dissent between him and his father, since the latter used conventional farming methods. But with neighboring coffee stands now threatened by coffee rust, caused by mono cropping, his father is quickly being converted to natural farming ways.
Matches’s firm stance in defense of the Lias tribal forests and his intrepid creativity make him a good model for other youth of his tribe. In his life he has shown courage and innovativity in the face of danger and many odds