Lunhaw Awardee calls for more tree growing activities in the watershed

March 25th, 2015 by

DAVAO CITY – This year’s winner of the Lunhaw Awards for the Best Agro-Forestry Initiative called for an intensification of tree growing activities along the watershed to reverse the damage caused by widespread agriculture development in the area.

“Today’s celebration of the International Day of Forests is an opportunity for us to emphasize the importance of forests and of trees outside our forests.”, said artist-teacher Ric Obenza.

Obenza, together with the Kalapati group of artists, is famous for his art and ecology workshops which have spurred widespread community initiatives on tree planting and rainforestation projects in Baguio, Calinan, Marahan and Marilog districts.

“Trees are essential in regenerating our watersheds. They absorb carbon dioxide and mitigate the impact of global warming brought about by excessive use of fossil fuels. They cool down our rivers and maintain water quality by preventing soil erosion”, he said.

IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes credits Obenza’s tree planting initiatives as instrumental in creating pockets of mini-forests in a watershed that is being encroached by plantations.

“His mini-rainforest parks have become buffer zones against banana and pineapple plantations, protecting communities from toxic pesticides and providing habitats for local wildlife to flourish.”, she said.

The Lunhaw Awards recognized Obenza’s soil generation technique and innovative rainforestation methods which have stopped the desertification of upland areas previously cleared for logging and plantations. His use of native trees and organic methods of farming have revitalized the forest land , allowing local animals and plants to survive and providing a source of forest products for communities to economically benefit from.

Worldwide, global deforestation continues at a frightening rate. The United Nations estimates that around 13 million hectares are destroyed annually, accounting for a 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

In the Philippines, changing land use policies in recent decades have opened up forest land to industrial agriculture and urban migration. This has resulted to the decline of the dipterocarp forest cover in the watersheds – a situation that Obenza hopes to arrest by engaging more community stakeholders in rainforestation activities.

“Our conscious turnaround from nature exploiter to environment steward is pivotal in reversing environmental degradation, habitat destruction and biodiveristy extinction. The call of the hour is to ‘Think globally, act locally’. Everyone should do their share by nurturing a tree.”, Obenza said. (MINDANAO DAILY MIRROR)

Homegrown musical heavyweights sing for the third Lunhaw Awards

March 5th, 2015 by

DAVAO CITY – Rock icon Popong Landero and artist-songwriter Maan Chua join forces for the second leg of the Lunhaw Concert series to honor the 2015 Lunhaw Awardees on March 13, 2015 at the Matina Town Square, Davao’s premier entertainment and cultural arts venue.

Funded by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Lunhaw Concert will highlight original, homegrown compositions which draw inspiration from nature.

“My music has always been a celebratory paean of the Mindanawon’s love for nature and their hopes and inspiration for green and sustainable communities.”, said Chua, who hopes that her songs will inspire more Dabawenyos to take part in the protection of the environment.

Landero, who first broke into the national music scene in the late 70’s with his neo-ethnic musical style, said that reggae has a strong tradition of social consciousness which makes its an apt musical form to reach out to new listeners and stir them to positive action for watershed protection.

“More than anything, music appeals to the heart.”, Landero said. “ On this night, Maan and I will translate our passion for the environment to music so that we can reach out to a new generation of listeners who will also do their part in saving our environment.”

Lunhaw Awards co-organizer and IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes said that she was delighted to present the two musicians on the night of the Lunhaw Awarding ceremonies.

“We are excited to have Maan and Popong join us for this year’s Lunhaw awarding ceremonies. Both their musical styles and temperaments provide an excellent platform for the Lunhaw Award’s objective of recognizing and promoting innovative and sustainable initiatives in the city.”, she said.

The Lunhaw Concert will start at 6:00 pm and end at 9:00 pm. In between set lists, the Lunhaw Awards will be given to this year’s seven honorees.

Organized by the City Agriculturist’s Office (CAO), the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO), the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS), the Davao City Water District (DCWD) and the Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), the Lunhaw Awards is an annual citywide search which recognizes innovative and sustainable green initiatives that protect and nurture Davao City and its watersheds. (MINDANAO TIMES)

Aerial spraying in two barangays

February 13th, 2015 by

THE aerial spraying of pesticides is still being carried out in banana plantations in at least two barangays in Davao City, an environment group has reported.

Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (Maas) president Dagohoy Magaway said the barangays are Dacudao and Subasta in Calinan District, and both are located in the city’s watershed areas.

He said Subasta is in the Talomo-Lipadas Watershed where the city sources its drinking water.

Another environment group, Interface Development Interventions Inc. (Idis), earlier found traces of pesticides in air and water samples taken from four areas in the Talomo-Lipadas and Panigan-Tamugan watersheds.

These watersheds are the current and future sources of drinking water for the city.

“The aerial spray knows no boundaries, it goes where the wind currents takes it. When it settles down on our rivers and springs, it threatens our water supply and the health of everyone who drinks from it,” Magaway said.

Magaway also pointed out that communities surrounding the two barangays have reported cases of the pesticide drift reaching them.

Maas and its support groups are calling for the immediate implementation of Davao’s Watershed Code, which has provisions banning aerial spraying in the designated environmentally critical areas (ECA) of the watersheds.

“We will work with what we have. Right now, it is the Watershed Code, which is currently being implemented, that allows us to protect Talomo-Lipadas, Panigan-Tamugan and other watersheds from contamination by toxic chemicals released through aerial spraying. Even as the Ban AS ordinance awaits final resolution, the campaign to eradicate aerial spraying continues,” Magaway said.

Maas is commemorating the eighth year of the passage of Davao’s landmark Ban Aerial Spraying Ordinance.

“This is the eighth year that we are commemorating the ordinance despite the fact that the Supreme Court has yet to resolve with finality the legality of its implementation in Davao City,” he said.

“Even so, the fact that this ordinance has been passed should send a strong signal to the remaining plantation companies still practicing aerial spraying that the local government is serious in upholding its people’s right to health and a clean environment,” he said. (Arianne Casas, Sunstar Davao)

Plantations in watersheds need permits, clearances

August 3rd, 2014 by

DAVAO CITY – PRIVATE and big corporations who want to convert watershed areas of Davao City into plantations must secure government permits and clearances, Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte said.

Duterte on Sunday issued the reminder after Sun.Star Davao columnist and Davao City Water District (DCWD) board of director Serafin “Jun” Ledesma called the attention of the city mayor through his weekly column.

“We really prohibit expansions in watershed areas. Naay balaod ana (There is a law) and it is enforced. Ug naay gusto mutanom o mugamit ug yuta (If anyone wants to utilize that land), it has to be delineated sa terrain analyses and they have to get a clearance. Otherwise, it would be a violation of law to proceed without a clearance,” Duterte said during his Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa Sunday.

He also said he will ask the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) to look into the areas and determine whether violations are committed.

Ledesma, in his column published on July 22, said “I have it from veritable source that a multinational banana corporation had developed some 200 hectares of land adjacent to Tamugan River and its tributaries.

This is a serious issue in the backdrop of the plan of the city government and of the Davao City Water District to tap the surface water of Tamugan.”

He said the corporation should stop its activity in the area and reforest the area, instead.

“I am urging Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to issue an order stopping corporate farms from converting recharge areas or watersheds of Davao City’s aquifers to monocrops. Their failure to comply with the directive of the city council to put up buffer zones should the more deter them from invading watersheds or anywhere beside Tamugan river and tributaries,” Ledesma said.

These allegations were confirmed by Duterte. He said corporate and even individual who are into agricultural farming operates in prohibited areas.

Duterte reminded the public “not to tinker with the watershed areas” since the spray being used goes straight to the river.

“Wala na tay underground water karon, naa pa pero dili mahatag ang supply nga panginahanglan sa syudad. So we have to tap the surface water and protect the watershed. Mao na dapat naay buffer zone especially in Tamugan (Our underground water is being depleted, there’s still some but no longer enough to provide for the whole city. Thus the need for a buffer zone in Tamugan),” he said.

The establishment of buffer zones along riverbanks is mandated by the Watershed Protection, Conservation and Management Ordinance of Davao City.

Section 24 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations states that “A minimum of 40-meter buffer zone shall be established between the plantation and critical areas such as recharge zones, critical slopes, riverbanks, rivers, springs, wells and others sources of water measured from the outermost boundary of the nearest critical area towards the plantation area within 6 months after the approval of the IRR.”

Meanwhile, the Watershed Management Council (WMC) launched a reforestation project along the riverbanks of the tributaries inside the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed to protect its headwaters which are the future source of Davao’s world-class drinking water.

The Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS), the Non-Government Organization Representative to the WMC, said this project will rehabilitate the areas already delineated and permanently marked by the WMC as critical areas for conservation and protection.

“This initiative gathers stakeholders to plant trees along the banks of streams and rivers, creating riparian forest corridors throughout the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed,” IDIS Executive Director Mary Ann Fuertes said.

“Riparian forest corridors are essentially buffer zones or easement banks along the rivers and streams. They are very important in forest ecology because not only do they prevent pesticide residues from reaching the rivers, they also serve as natural sponges which absorb excess run-off during heavy rains, thereby preventing flooding and erosion,” she said.

Funded by the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), the project will identify appropriate riverbank sites for tree growing in coordination with the riverbank communities and barangays.

Endemic fruit trees will be prioritized in the tree growing activities with the communities being coached to take the lead in monitoring and evaluation of the forest sites.

“Barangay volunteers will be trained as Bantay Bukid personnel to help protect these forest corridors. Agro-forestry livelihood initiatives will also be implemented by the WMC so that communities can also generate additional income,” she said.

The initial areas identified for the project are in the upland barangays of Tambobong, Tamugan, Wines, Gumalang and Tawan-tawan.

The project aims to cover all riverbanks in all the eight watersheds of Davao City. At the end of the project year, incentives will be given to the best community-managed riparian forest corridor.

“Through this project, the riverbanks will finally be highlighted for their strategic impact in watershed management. It is my hope that all riverbanks, especially the urban riverbanks, will be eventually covered by this project,” said WMC member and Chair of the Watershed Multipartite Monitoring Team (WMMT) Engr. Liza Madrazo. (Arianne Caryl N. Casas, SUNSTAR DAVAO) 

Riparian Forest planned at watershed

August 1st, 2014 by

DAVAO CITY –   The  Watershed Management Council (WMC) and its member-organizations are planning to set up a riparian forest corridor at the Tamugan- Panigan watershed that will connect the watersheds to the city’s coastal areas.

A riparian forest is the area of land and vegetation immediately next to bodies of water such as streams, rivers, or lakes, said Mary Anne Fuertes, head of Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), the non-government organization representative of the project.

“Riparian forests help in filtering wastes, they absorb that instead of the runoffs from the uplands going to the river or water supply,” Fuertes said.

She added that apart from the ecological development of the watershed, riparian forests also serve as livelihood opportunities for communities in the area who will also be their partners in developing and managing the forest corridor.

“Ecotourism can flourish in the forest corridor. There can be barangay parks, picnic areas, and there are species of trees that can be used for livelihood,” added Fuertes.

Riparian forest corridors also attract different endemic wildlife, she said, both in the forest areas and the bodies of water they will be connected to, encouraging wildlife diversity.

The setting up of the riparian forest corridor project has no schedule yet, she said, but stakeholders from the immediate community  also met yesterday at Lispher Inn in Juna subdivision for the implementation planning.

“We want to meet with the schools, barangay leaders, to determine what is feasible for everyone,” she said.

The Foundation for the Philippine Environment has set aside P2 million in two years for the project.

“This is not solely for the river banks projects. But with that amount, there are plenty of projects that can be started,” Fuertes said.

Additionally, Fuertes said there are five “Bantay Bukid” volunteers set for training this year to monitor the areas.

The volunteers will be coming from the barangays located around the Tamugan-Panigan Watershed, such as Tambobong, Tamugan, Wangan, and Wines.

The volunteers will join the 42 Bantay Bukid personnel trained last year, and Fuertes said they are compensated through provision of insurance, and equipment for their work in the area.  (Salud Isabel Petalcorin, MINDANAO TIMES)