Latest results of a project focused on the country’s natural capital underscore the need for stronger environmental policies, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.
In a press briefing on Monday, the NEDA and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) presented data from a pilot area of the Philippine Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (Phil-WAVES) program.
The LLDA said that 81 percent of the pollution flowing into Laguna de Bay came from domestic waste.
The closed forest around the lake has also decreased by 35 percent, the agency said, while built-up areas have increased by 116 percent. Rapid urbanization was most evident in the northwest, west and southern portions of the lake, it added.
Flood risks in the lake zone have also substantially increased because of increasing population density. A continuing increase in soil erosion from the watershed has made the lake shallower, making adjacent land prone to flooding, it said.
“For now the lake can sustain fisheries but is threatened by contamination from pollution. Invasive species are also a threat for the negative effect on biodiversity and indigenous species, impacting the economic operations of fisheries,” the LLDA noted.
With this, the NEDA said there was an urgent need to sharpen national as well as local policies and strengthen the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations to protect ecosystems, manage competing uses of scarce resources and promote sustainable development.
NEDA Deputy Director General Emmanuel Esguerra said the findings underscored the need to improve environmental management, particularly in Phil-WAVES pilot areas.
“Moreover, the findings will inform the conduct of environmental impact assessments and cost- benefit analyses, which can serve as a basis for strengthening the management of ecosystems and natural resources in the country,” Esguerra added.
The NEDA said the development of the Laguna Lake ecosystem accounts was based on
data collected and analyzed primarily by the LLDA with the assistance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and other government agencies. The LLDA is responsible for the water and land management of the Laguna Lake Basin.
WAVES is a World Bank-supported global partnership that aims to account for natural capital and services provided by ecosystems. The Philippines has been selected as one of the eight core implementing countries.