The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) based in Los Banos, Laguna has identified measures to improve resiliency against extreme weather changes of the localities covering the Upper Marikina River Basin, an area vital for Metro Manila’s sustainability.
SEARCA, with support from the Asian Development Bank, embarked on the study “Climate Resilience and Green Growth in the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL): Demonstrating the Eco-town Framework” which formulated measures to help San Mateo, Rodriquez, Antipolo, Tanay and Baras all in Rizal province cope with severe weather changes brought about by climate change, and at the outset, protect its natural environment.
“The measures, if implemented over the prescribed time periods, will help the UMRBPL be resilient against extreme weather changes. That is very important because the Upper Marikina River Basin is just beside Metro Manila,” said SEARCA Executive Director Dr. Gil Saguiguit.
The measures include: reforest and provide soil/slope stabilization in San Mateo, Rodriguez, Baras and Tanay; providing clean water, air and solid waste management in Antipolo; construct easement/drainage for roads/bridges in Antipolo; give education on impact of climate change in Antipolo; strictly implement zoning and Comprehensive Land Use Planning in San Mateo; relocate residents living along hazardous areas in San Mateo; stabilize roads/bridges approaches and supports in Rodriguez; clean up water courses and structures in flood-prone areas in Rodriquez; construct water impounding structures in Tanay and Baras; and update local land use and integrate climate change and disaster reduction in Baras.
SEARCA also found out the area lost 12,950 hectares of open and closed canopy forests over the last 10 years. The study area covers a total land area of 29,805 hectares and around 12,840 hectares of agricultural/cultivated lands were converted to non-agricultural uses, presumably to settlement/built-up areas.
However, there are still forest cover left in the UMRBPL, particularly in Montalban with 7,291.8 hectares and Antipolo with 359.1 hectares. Production forests in Antipolo (1,685.3 hectares) and Montalban (757.5 hectares) are still intact.
The SEARCA study aims to put into place the Ecotown and Green Growth Program in the study area to reduce the degradation of the remaining forest cover of the protected area, restore and rehabilitate the integrity of degraded areas, protect well-being of the human population in the study area from climate-change induced vulnerabilities like landslides and flooding.