Convergence in terms of planning for the management of the country’s natural resources is needed to be able to achieve sustainability. This was one of the key takeaways from the 12th Multi-Sectoral Forum on Watershed Management held recently at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) headquarters in Diliman, Quezon City.
One of the challenges identified in the forum is the lack of convergence among national, provincial, and municipal agencies. Forester Ricardo L. Calderon, Director of the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) said that the government has a number of plans that need to be integrated. This is because each of the DENR agencies – FMB, Land Management Bureau (LMB), Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), and River Basin Control Office (RBCO) develop plans, which can be combined into one integrated environment and natural resources management plan.
“When the plans of the national government are passed on to the local municipality, the local municipality suffers because the plans are not consistent,” said Leovigildo R. Ruzol, Mayor of General Nakar, Quezon, in Filipino. Similar to Forester Calderon, he suggested that all frontline agencies should meet and develop an integrated plan that has a single goal.
The forum, which had the theme, Promoting Integrated Development using Watershed Approach, was attended by the Department of Agriculture, Forest Products Research and Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-FPRDI), the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources of the DOST (DOST-PCAARRD), Philippine Watershed Coalition, Energy Development Corporation (EDC), and state colleges and universities specifically Bicol University, Central Mindanao University, Pampanga State Agricultural University, Isabela State University, Mariano Marcos State University, and the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Local government units (LGU) from General Nakar, Quezon; Ligao, Albay; Cavinti, Laguna; Luisiana, Laguna; Bukidnon, Davao del Norte; Batac, Ilocos Norte, and Isabela also attended the event. One of the sponsors of the forum is DOST-PCAARRD.
Dr. Rex Victor O. Cruz, Scientist of the UPLB-College of Forestry and Natural Resources (CFNR), also emphasized that the plans can be improved through the use of available technologies and data, particularly those generated from the Integrated National Watershed Research and Development Project or INWARD. INWARD, a DOST-PCAARRD funded project, provides information on Pagsanjan-Lumban watershed in Laguna; Saug watershed in Davao and Compostela province; Quiaoit watershed in Ilocos Norte; Abuan watershed in Isabela; Quinali watershed in Albay; and Muleta watershed in Bukidnon. The data generated from INWARD included maps, biodiversity in the area, socio-economic data, payments for environmental services (PES), and watershed resiliency.
For the LGUs to learn about best practices in integrated development, Engr. Carlos E. Inofre, Tanay, Rizal Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer presented the experience of the Tanay Sub-Watershed. The Tanay, Rizal LGU, through the help of the private sector, was able to protect the Masungi Georeserve area, a conservation area and rustic rock garden, as a local protected area of Tanay through a municipal ordinance.
The forum, which was a two-day activity, also held a workshop for the participants in order to apply the knowledge they acquired during the first day.