Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reservoir celebrates 100th year

Reservoir celebrates 100th year
By Candeze R. Mongaya
Cebu Daily News
March 23, 2011

It’s all about learning a thing or two from nature.

The lush 360-hectare forest of indigenous trees that is the Buhisan Watershed and Forest Reserve now boasts a variety of eco-tourism offerings for the nature enthusiast.

Yesterday, new projects were inaugurated in the reserve in celebration of World Water Day and the 100th anniversary of the Buhisan reservoir.

Architect Socorro Atega, executive director of Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water, led visitors on tour of new projects in the watershed like a garden for butterflies endemic to the Philippines, including the Jumalone butterflies only found in Cebu.

“ The Buhisan forest is a natural butterfly sanctuary,” she said.

The Buhisan Watershed and Forest Reserve Nature Center, which is in the middle of the trees, will house the historical and ecological facts about the watershed.

Behind the center is a two-level pond that will save rainwater runoff. Atega said that they would also put tilapia fish in the pond.

A nursery for seedlings sponsored by the Philippine Business for Social Progress will house indigenous tree species to be planted in the area.

CEBU DAILY NEWS publisher and acting editor in chief Eileen Mangubat, who chairs the PBSP Cebu Hillyland Development Committee, said they wanted to plant indigenous trees to bring back the native fauna.

“In a few years, we will hear more birds chirping,” Mangubat said in a speech during the recognition of watershed donors.

Among the indigenous seedlings in the area are Mabolo, Tipolo, Banilad, Dakit and Cebu Cinnamon.

The track from the center to the pond near the dam is lined with mahogany, teak, and germelina trees as old as 50 years.

Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) general manager Armando Paredes said that they wanted to attract more visitors to the forest reserve who will be taught the importance of forest preservation.

“Every sector of society should be conscious in protecting and preserving nature,” Paredes said in an interview.

The MCWD, together with the Cebu City governemnt, PBSP and CUSW were among the organizations that united for the Save the Buhisan Watershed Project.

The project was launched in 2008 in response to the United Nation’s Millenuim Development Goals to provide eco-friendly livelihood and development to communities and rehabilitate the environment.

The project has generated more than P5 million from donors for environment and livelihood projects.

They provided alternative livelihood for nearby residents like vermi composting, planting of crops and raising livestock as alternatives to illegal logging and charcoal making.

The residents also helped provide the seedlings for the reforestation of the watershed.

Paul Fluty, president and CEO of the Lexmark International Philippines Inc., said 40 percent of residents in Buhisan are poor and should be given sustainable livelihood.

“We wanted this to be a sustainable, eco-cultural tourism destination,” Fluty said in a speech.