THE US Embassy, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region IV-A, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office IV-A entered into a new partnership that will enable poor communities to restore and protect forests in the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL) and Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve (KWFR) in Rizal and Quezon provinces.
Signed on July 7, 2015, the partnership is a convergence of two flagship programs of the Philippine Government—the DSWD’s Pan¬tawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps), which aims to eradicate extreme poverty in the Philippines, and the National Greening Program (NGP), the government’s reforestation program with DENR as the lead agency. It aims to achieve key conservation and socioeconomic goals: (1) continue and expand maintenance and protection activities in the NGP sites to achieve increased forest cover and productivity, (2) provide incentives to Pantawid Pamilya partners to engage in forest conservation, and (3) enhance communities’ knowledge and skills to better manage natural resources.
“This collaboration will lead us a step closer to achieving our shared goal of broad-based, inclusive and resilient growth for Filipinos,” said Jeremy Gustafson, Director of USAID/Philippines’ Office of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
Under the partnership, the DSWD has allocated about P 9.2 million for more than 1,000 Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries who will be involved in maintenance and protection activities like replanting, weeding, and nursery establishment.
“I see this is a very good opportunity for 4Ps beneficiaries to understand the importance of forest conservation. By providing them the opportunity to work for forest conservation, they will better appreciate the importance of protecting the watersheds,” said DSWD Regional Director Leticia Diokno.
DENR is targeting to cover at least 2,000 hectares of NGP sites. U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Bio¬diversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program, will provide capacity-building activities on forest management, and help beneficiaries develop forest-based livelihood activities.
DENR Regional Director Rey¬nulfo Juan said “The 4Ps will help us sustain the NGP restoration and maintenance activities beyond its period; and we are willing to expand the areas to be covered under this partnership.”
The 26,125-hectare (ha) Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape and 27,613-ha Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve are home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna, many of which are found only in the Philippines. Additionally, both watersheds play an important role in providing water resources to Metro Manila’s 12 million residents and mitigating flooding in the nation’s capital.