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Nat’l greening program gets boost from Mindanao stakeholders

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Davao City - The National Greening Program of the Aquino administration gets a boost from Mindanao as key leaders here gear up for an intensified and integrated watershed and river basin management in the island-region.

Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chairperson, said protecting and preserving Mindanao’s watersheds is one of the key issues highlighted at the recently concluded 3rd MinDA Board Meeting.

Antonio said in a report presented to the MinDA Board, Environment Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo said that Mindanao has only 6 percent forest area left, as of last year.

“Mindanao is an emergency room, given this forest area,” Adobo said, adding that the recent massive flooding in Mindanao were also due to watershed degradation.

Aside from neglect of watershed reserves, other concerns on the vulnerability of the specific areas of Mindanao to damaging effects of deforestation and absence of authority in areas highly susceptible to uncontrolled logging activities were also raised during the meeting.

Vicente Lao, co-chair of Regional Development Council in Davao Region, urged leaders to check on the possible logging activities around some watershed areas. A few watershed reserves are reportedly in threat of unabated logging activities due to lack of control in these areas.

According to DENR, there are three watershed areas in Mindanao that currently need rehabilitation. These areas are located in Linamon, Lanao del Norte; Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte; and Nasipit, Agusan del Norte.

Degradation of these watersheds, which have been protecting the areas against flashflood while providing income to small-time farmers, are seen to have implications on food security and settlement viability in the nearby areas.

In a move to protect watershed areas, the MinDA Board issued a resolution to intensify efforts for an integrated watershed and river basin management in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Watershed and river basin management is in a way a biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation strategy that supports President Aquino’s National Greening Program,” Antonino said.

She said the board supports DENR in the conduct of a characterization and hydrology studies in the Mindanao watersheds.

Some of the platforms presented by DENR were community-based forest management, reward system for the efforts of forest preservation, and reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, plus enhancement of carbon pools (REDD Plus).

“We would have to present this plan to the LGUs (local government units) to show them the watersheds that lack proper management so that they can complement with our efforts,” she said.

“They can choose the program which they think is most apt for their communities,” she further said.

Mindanao has eight major river basins, namely the Agus river basin, Cagayan de Oro river basin, Tagoloan river basin, Agusan river basin, Mindanao river basin (Cotabato), Tagum-Libuganon river basin, Davao river basin and Buayan-Malungan river basin.

The Mindanao River Basin (Cotabato) and Agusan River Basin in Caraga region are among the two largest river basins in the island. (PNA/PIA9-BST)




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