ILOILO CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Tuesday launched here the "Save our Watershed" (SOW) campaign which is expected to benefit Iloilo Province's Jalaur Watershed along with three other major river basins in the country
Stakeholders from the province gathered virtually to express their support to the campaign anchored on the 10-year Forestland Management Project (FMP) funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The project was first launched in Manila on June 30.
Iloilo Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Jun Manglinong said the FMP was implemented at the Jalaur Watershed in 2012.
“It was the biggest single DENR project outside of Luzon and will end in June 2022 based on a loan agreement with Japan. This is envisioned to be emulated in other regions, especially in provincial watershed management areas,” he said.
The Jalaur FMP has benefitted 22 people's organizations (POs) with over 2,000 members covering 13,027 hectares of the watershed.
Of the covered area, 7,033 hectares are coffee plantations while others were developed for reforestation, agro-forestry, fuelwood, and soil conservation model.
Each PO was provided seed capital of PHP100,000 as support to their chosen livelihood.
A total of 31 agroforestry support facilities were implemented composed primarily of the construction of pathways, hanging bridges, irrigation pipeline systems, and concreting of roads and bridges.
Manglinong said of the projects, four are completed, 20 will be finished by the end of December this year, and seven others in 2022.
Forester Antonio M. Latoza Jr., the provincial focal person for the FMP, said in the press conference, watersheds are “recharged areas of freshwater”.
“It is a natural reservoir where diverse flora and fauna species thrive. This is where various life forms developed. If you look at it, every inch of our land is a part of the watershed,” he added.
When two or more watersheds join together, then they form the basin, he said.
DENR Assistant Secretary Marcial C. Amaro Jr., in his virtual message, said SOW aims to help sustain and conserve watersheds in the country.
“SOW is aimed at preserving these investments and perhaps mobilize and secure the support from stakeholders,” he added.
The campaign is focused on four river basins in the country, apart from the Jalaur River basin, it also covers the Upper Magat and Cagayan River Basin in Cordillera Administrative Region, and Cagayan Valley Region and the Upper Pampanga River Basin in Central Luzon.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr., who chairs the Iloilo Watershed Management Council (IWMC), said saving the watershed is important because it would also save rivers, rice farms, and sources of water.
He said the IWMC is tasked to monitor and improve the state of the province’s 23 watersheds. (PNA)