An executive order prioritizing watershed rescue is being pushed by forest experts to counter the effects of climate-linked calamities and ensure the replenishment of irrigation and hydro-electric or geothermal energy sources.
The Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is drafting an EO that will elevate to national strategy status its “Save Our Watershed” movement.
“This will pave the way for the establishment of institutional mechanisms for collaborative or whole-of-society efforts in conserving our watersheds,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said during the launch of the Save Our Watershed campaign last week.
It is extremely important for watersheds – forests that are sources of water that are “shed” into rivers, lakes, and seas – to be protected, according to Energy Development Corp. (EDC) Assistant Vice President Allan Barcena.
“Protecting watersheds is not only a corporate social responsibility program for us. It is part of our business strategy. When we’re protecting the watershed, it means our geothermal resource is sustained. If we don’t protect our watershed, our geothermal steam is not sustained. So for us it’s both a commitment and a business strategy and mission,” Barcena said.
The SOW campaign is being supported by the DENR’s Forestland Management Project(FMP).
Eigo Azukizawa, chief of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-Philippines which co-finances FMP, said the SOW campaign aimss to avert destructive effects of calamities.
SOW-FMP is targeting to protect 71,300 hectares of forests within the critical wastersheds of Upper Magat and Cagayan, Upper Pampanga, and Jalaur (Panay Island).
As of 2019, there are 131 critical priority watersheds in the country that support water facilities, hydroelectric power plants, and irrigation systems.