Chico River Photo copyright by Vincent Leterrier
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is embarking on a project to restore over a million hectares of watershed areas in four of the country’s major upper river basins.
The four river basins are Chico in the Cordillera Region, Wahig-Inabanga in Central Visayas, Bukidnon in Northern Mindanao, and Lake Danao Watershed in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said that the seven-year Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Program (INREMP) aims to redress the severe land and water degradation that has occurred in important watershed areas and by promoting the use of native species.
“INREMP is akin to the National Greening Program because it also targets to rehabilitate some one million hectares using 58 million indigenous tree seedlings that will be raised and grown under the project,” Paje explained.
Aside from helping remediate past biodiversity losses, Paje said the project – which runs from 2013 to 2020 – seeks to provide livelihood to some 350,000 households living in 2,201 barangays within the four river basins.
Paje said the program adopts an integrated cross-sector approach to river basin management in a bid to improve the symbiotic relationship between existing economic activities and conservation practices being observed in river basins.
“We are looking at the INREMP as a model on how to harmonize development and conservation issues, especially on biodiversity and climate change, in critical watershed areas that are located within these upper river basins,” Paje said.
The environment chief also cited the importance of INREMP to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases as the program seeks to bring down carbon dioxide emissions from forest activities.
Of the four sites, the Upper Bukidnon River Basin has the highest coverage area at 446,620 hectares, while the Upper Chico River Basin covers 405,894 hectares, the Lake Lanao Watershed with 138,834 hectares and the Upper Wahig-Inabanga with 62,853 hectares.
Paje said the INREMP has the goal of reducing the rate of soil erosion from the four upper river basins to a total 4.6 metric tons by 2020.
In 1999, an aggregate volume of 25.7 metric tons were found to have been eroded from the four river basins per year.
According to Paje, all four have high biodiversity value besides being major providers of water requirements for major agricultural and industrial activities such as irrigation, power generation and local tourism.
River basins are composed of ecologically and economically important watersheds that drain water through rivers and other tributaries there. Water resources in river basins are indispensable for domestic, agricultural, industrial and other purposes.
The Chico River is a major river in the Cordillera Administrative Region and is a main source of water for irrigation at its origin in Mt. Province for vegetable production and downstream in Kalinga for rice production, making the province as the region’s rice granary. It also has the potential to generate 1,000 megawatts of power.
The Upper Bukidnon River Basin and the Lake Lanao Watershed feed the six major rivers of Mindanao, including Cagayan River and the Rio Grande. They also supply water to rivers that irrigate the rice lands of Mindanao.
The Bukidnon river basin provides 250,000 cubic meters of water per hour to Cagayan, Tagoloan and Pulangi rivers for irrigation. It also supports the operation of the Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plant that supplies 25 percent of Mindanao’s power needs.
Lake Lanao, on the other hand, supports seven hydroelectric power plants supplying 55 to 65 percent of the power requirement of Mindanao.
The Wahig-Inabanga River Basin in Bohol supplies the water requirements of three dams – Malinao, Bayongan and Capayas – which are considered national irrigation systems covering 10,040 hectares.
DENR: Restoration of 4 major river basins in full swing
Thursday, 15 May 2014 18:02 </p