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NIA, DENR to manage 143 watershed areas

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) for the effective management and development of the 143 watersheds supporting the country’s national irrigation systems.

NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu signed the MoA at the DENR Central Office in Quezon City on Monday.

“Under the agreement, NIA shall identify and recommend priority watersheds and reservations supporting irrigation projects that require immediate rehabilitation and development in coordination with the DENR and its Forest Management Bureau. Also, NIA shall… secure appropriate environment clearances and permits from the DENR and/or its field offices necessary for the protection of watersheds and reservations,” NIA said in a statement.

Moreover, NIA shall recommend its qualified field personnel to be deputized by the DENR as environment and natural resources officers, in accordance with the existing forestry laws, rules and regulations. NIA shall also assist the DENR in the preparation of integrated watershed, and management plans (IWMP) and programs related to the management, protection, development and rehabilitation of such watersheds and reservations.

The MoA also provides that the DENR and NIA should have joint undertakings in enforcing forestry laws, conducting census management, controlling watershed communities and sharing available watershed information that would enhance watershed capabilities of all parties. In coordination with other concerned agencies and institutions, the information, education and communication campaigns, studies, and research and development on watershed technology generation and application must be conducted.

DENR issued the guidelines in the preparation of IWMPs and programs of all watersheds in the country, regardless of their classification, size, use and administrative jurisdiction.

The agencies said there was a need to establish and delineate the respective responsibilities of the DENR and NIA over watersheds and reservations, for purposes of effective management and development of programs and projects towards the sustainable existence of irrigation systems within the said areas. Similarly, the concept of watershed ecosystem management from ridge to reef approach, including vulnerability assessment, must be harmonized and adopted.

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