Monday, August 29, 2011

Watershed, river plan sought

Watershed, river plan sought
By Candeze R. Mongaya
Cebu Daily News
August 29, 2011

Much work lies ahead for Cebu province if it wants to resolve its flooding and water supply problems.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said this as he called on local government officials and stakeholders to draft a comprehensive water management and flooding plan to protect Cebu’s river basins and ensure the sustainability of province’s water supply.

The Central Cebu River Basins Management Council (CCRBMC) which Palma co-chairs will map plans using an ecosystems approach to river management that considers  interdependent factors like forest cover and socio-economics.

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7), Cebu province has the most number of confiscated forest products in the region this year with 126.64 cubic meters worth of wood valued at P792,758.00.

About 270 cubic meters of forest products were seized by the agency from January to July 2011 with an estimated worth of P1.4 million.

Palma said the Cebuanos should take an active part towards protecting their river basins, watersheds and forests.

“Everything is inter-related. When people are concerned and aware and will do something to solve the problem, something can be done. We need to understand the importance of water and how it can be sustainable,” Palma told Cebu Daily News in an interview.

Palma said a proper management plan is crucial to protect Cebu’s river basins in order to solve Cebu’s water woes.

In a pastoral letter last July 21, Palma called on the Cebuano flock to participate in the management and sustenance of the river basins.

“We need to actualize an action-reflection-action praxis towards integrated water resources management,” the 61-year-old prelate said.

Palma lamented what he said was the Cebuanos’ failure to be sensitive and conscientious  to the water crisis.

“Complacency has no room for a long overdue homework. Cooperation and collaboration will be effective if each one understands their role and can undertake responsibility for their specific function,” Palma said.

Soccoro Artiaga, executive director for Cebu Uniting for Sustainable Water  (CUSW) said raising awareness among communites is important to keep watershed development and river basin protection projects sustainable.

Artiaga and other CUSW members along with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) led the resource and land use planning for the Buhisan watershed last week.

“We need to train the communities in watershed management and development planning and we should also be aware of the issues and concern from the community,” Artiaga told Cebu Daily News.

She said they discussed such issues as the protection of the watersheds from illegal cutters, the siltation due to lack of forest cover, planting native tree species and the hunting of endemic animals.

Among the native tree species found in Buhisan Watershed are nara, lumbang, tipolo, talu-tu and lagdub.

Artiaga said the communities weren’t consulted on the policies that were later adopted for watershed areas.

“The communities also need to feel a sense of ownership in protecting the watershed areas,” Artiaga said.

In Bohol, about 121.19 cubic meters of forest products valued at P324,376.08 were seized while Negros Oriental apprehended 19.79 cubic meters of forest products worth P271,906.07.

Most of the forest products  seized were lumber, flitches, timber, log, squared timber, boat keel, firewood, logbolts, charcoal, tanbark and poles.

They were confiscated from the port areas of Tagbilaran and Talibon in Bohol,  Argao, Carmen, Toledo City and Cebu City, Ayungon and Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental and in Siquijor.

Regional DENR-7 Executive Director Maximo O. Dichoso said the forest products  lacked transportation documents and were mis-declared in violation of the country’s Forestry Code.

Dichoso said transport documents are important to determine the reduction of forest cover where the trees were cut down and ensure a control mechanism on the unauthorized movement and disposition of contraband forest  products.