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LWUA commitment to watershed conservation


National Summit on Watershed Management

Objectives
State of Philippine Watersheds
LWUA Tree-Planting Advocacy
Issues Confronting Watershed Programs
Legal Issues
Watershed-Based Forest Land Use
The Puerto Princesa Protocol

Cognizant of the important association between provision of water supply and sustainable watershed management, LWUA has been supportive of the initiatives of water districts for watershed related programs and projects.

In the early 1990s, LWUA funded and supported projects for watershed projects implemented by WDs. Among the successful recipients of the support were the watershed projects of Metro Cebu WD, Metro Naga WD, Zamboanga City WD and Davao City WD. LWUA has its Central Program Support Office for Sewerage and Sanitation (CPSO) and Watershed Management Division to oversee and monitor watershed programs and projects of water districts. In 2009 LWUA saw it fit to revitalize its Watershed Assistance Program to WDs and thus the MoA on Watershed Management among LWUA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Philippine Association of Water Districts (PAWD) came to be. To fast track matters, a Task Force on Watershed Management was created to facilitate WD-led watershed projects.

The need to encourage greater participation of WDs in watershed management is a task that LWUA will endeavour to pursue in the coming years.

In relation to this, a two-day summit was undertaken in June, this year in the city of Puerto Princesa. This endeavor was initiated by LWUA with the support of DENR, PAWD and the Puerto Princesa City Water District.

Objectives

The specific objectives of the summit are to:

(1) Present the general Philippine situation on watershed and discuss the legal and policy framework on Philippine watershed management program;

(2) Highlight LWUA's vision and direction on sustainable watershed management and present LWUA's Financial Assistance Package for Watershed Management;

(3) Share experiences, best practices and issues/concerns on watershed management programs implemented among water districts;

(4) Secure commitment on the nationwide advocacy and dedication towards sustainable management of watersheds, and

(5) Plan to implement a nationwide activity to plant 15 million trees in three years through WD led programmes.

Situationer on the State of Watersheds in the Philippines

Director Marlo D. Mendoza focused his discussion on the national watershed management situationer, status of watersheds; laws and policies - legal basis/framework, definitions, descriptions and delineation of watersheds; protected areas, reservations, watershed management principles and practices, watershed management arrangements and agreements/implementation modalities.

He highlighted the need to consider a comprehensive approach to watershed management which includes both uplands and lowlands as well as coastal/marine systems. The Director also mentioned the current state of watershed resources and the importance of conducting a watershed characterization for each watershed under the jurisdiction of WDs. In addition, his presentation focused on how forest cover helps minimize floods.

Dir. Mendoza presented facts and statistics depicting the Philippines as an impressive ecological nation decades ago, but since then has rapidly worsened in the past few decades. Land use conversion, logging and illegal farm practices are some of the reasons he cited for the depletion of our forest cover at alarming rates. Relatedly, he cited several technologies that have been developed to fast rack reforestation, including genetic engineering of fast growing forest trees.

Mitigating the effects of climate change was also discussed by the Director. Tree planting and forest protection contributes to carbon storage, thereby limiting carbon emissions into the atmosphere. He explained the global concept of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation or REDD. Moreover, he introduced and explained the concepts of carbon imprinting and carbon pooling as ways to measure and manage a person's effect on the environment. REDD revolves around creating carbon pools and protecting existing carbon pools. Dir. Mendoza went on to discuss various instruments for forest management. He discussed the national REDD plus its strategy components, to include: enabling policy, governance, research and development, consultation and capacity building, resource use allocation and management, MRV, and sustainable financing. He reiterated the need for DENR to partner with other stakeholders such as WDs in the appropriate and effective management and protection of the environment, after explaining the limitations of DENR in terms of budget and manpower.

Responding to the problem of watershed requires "thinking out of the box", being innovative and creative. He also emphasized the need for a firm commitment, as we are not without resources and technologies. He concluded his presentation by saying that sustainable watershed management is necessary because it not only increases forest cover but contributes positive impacts such as improved health, economic gains and cost savings.

LWUA Advocacy on Tree Planting

LWUA's Advocacy on Tree Planting aims to come up with a collective design or template that would design a long-term management of the watershed, considered the main contributory factor to the sustainable source of water of WDs. He explained that targets for the tree planting would be 5M trees planted in the 1st year of operation, then 10M trees in the 2nd year, and 15M trees in the last year of the project. This translates into a total target of around 10,000 trees to be planted by each WD in the first year. If there are around 50,000 WD employees nationwide, and if they are willing to mobilize their family and friends, this target is easily attainable. He mentioned that the Guinnes Record for one day tree planting is in Pakistan wherein 514,000 trees were planted in a day. He posted a challenge to WDs to beat this Guinness record. Plans for this particularly activity should be worked out at the national level and properly coordinated with the WDs.

Issues Confronting Implementation of Sustainable Watershed Management Programs in WDs

Issues Confronting Implementation of Sustainable Watershed Management Programs was discussed by Elmer T. Luzon from NORMIN Natural Resources Management Council, and General Manager of San Francisco WD in Agusan del Sur. He listed four major considerations, to wit: know your watershed, build partnerships, put together a watershed management plan, and determine the cost of development. He cited the experience of the San Francisco WD in the protection and conservation of Mt. Magdiwata Watershed. He outlined the processes and actual experiences of the project from community entry, participatory rapid appraisal (PRA), community organizing and social preparation, baseline survey establishment, biodiversity survey and evaluation, land use (resource mapping), rehabilitation and development, livelihood provision and basic social services, and monitoring and evaluation.

He also discussed the major policies and laws relevant to watershed management and the relevant agencies and their corresponding functions. He also cited several instances when they were forced to file cases against quarry operators, small-scale mining, poaching in the watershed area as part of watershed management. He emphasized the use of COPAR (Co-Participatory Action and Research) methods in social preparation and community organizing, and Intensified IEC instead of simple lEC. He likewise advised the WDs to consider Indigenous Societies/Indigenous Peoples (ISs/IPs) as vital partners in watershed development to ensure a comprehensive and integrated approach.

Highlights on Legal Issues for Watershed Management

Atty. Gerthie Mayo-Anda gave extensive and well appreciated inputs on the topic. The highlights of her presentation were as follows:
She enumerated and discussed the Environmental Legal issues including: (1) land and resource use conflicts; (2) forest conversion, development goals and plans; (3) mining in watersheds, natural forests and protected areas; (4) overlapping institutional roles: LGUs, DENR, and, (5) weak enforcement of environmental laws.

She likewise discussed the five major thrusts of the Millennium Development goals on ensuring environmental sustainability. She also cited national laws and policies towards this end including: (1) RA 7586 (NIPAS); (2) RA 9147 (Wildlife law); (3) 1997 national biodiversity strategy and action plan (NBSAP); and the (4) 2002 Phil Biodiversity Conservation Priorities Program to strengthen protected areas system and prioritize 132 areas.

The attendant development plan for this endeavour is to establish 15 wildlife farms, massive reforestation, promote timber production and agro forestry, delineation of 8.4M has. Of forest lands for agro forestry, promote investments in permanent production forests using tenurial arrangements.

She discussed the threats to the realization of this in the form of; logging (legal and illegal), mining operations, geothermal explorations, dam construction, agriculture, rapid population growth/Upland migration, conversion for development projects.

She likewise discussed the responses made by the government in terms of reforestation initiatives, the laws and policies formulated and the development plans on reforestation, timber production and agro forestry, delineation of forest lands, issuance of appropriate tenurial arrangements, corporate and community-based area development, structural migration for natural disaster prevention, opening of denuded areas.

She ended her presentation by introducing the concept of intergenerational equity which is also known as Intergenerational Justice, refers to the right of present and future generations to a healthful and balanced ecology and to use, benefit from and enjoy our natural resource treasures, emphasizing that environmental justice is a continuing concern.

Formulation of a Watershed-Based Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP)

Mr. Casimiro Olvida, Uplands and Governance Specialist of the Philippine Environmental Governance Project gave a brief Overview of Governance-Oriented FLUP. Highlights of the presentation were as follows: (1) EcoGov project, a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) technical assistance project from the US government to the Philippine government with Development Alternatives, Inc. as contract implementor. The project assist in the formulation of Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP), Coastal Resources Management (CRM), and Urban Environmental Management. (2) FLUP as a key element in reducing conflicts in managing forest and forest lands (FFL).

He also introduced the concept of charging watershed management fees as part of the water tariff by the WDs to generate assured funds for watershed management.

The "Puerto princesa Protocol"

The Puerto Princesa Protocol was drafted which declared commitment of the WDs to protect and protect and conserve the Philippines' vital life - supporting watersheds through partnerships and joint undertakings. The PAWD officers and the representatives of the WDs read the contents of the protocol and ceremonially affixed their signatures to end the Summit. The rest of the Participants then signed the Protocol.

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