ALABEL, Sarangani (February 3, 2023) – To help improve the province’s water resources, Sarangani is set to craft a Reforestation Development Plan (RDP) by the first quarter of this year.
According to Bien Dolom, Water Resource Management Specialist of USAID Safe Water, the RDP “is very crucial as it targets to increase forest cover in order to sustain the water resources ng probinsya, since it is primarily focused on improving the water security of Sarangani.”
The RDP is anchored on the Provincial Integrated Water Security Management Plan and the One Million Trees Project of Governor Rogelio Pacquiao.
“The 1-million trees is the essence of the RDP because trees will improve the environment, the soil condition, and the infiltration of rainwater underground,” Dolom said.
In the process, trees will capture the rainwater and prevent it from flowing to the rivers, and flooding and damaging, especially during high rainfall days.
“Through reforestation, we will be capturing the rainwater so that these are restored underground and will be released slowly through springs and streams,” Dolom explained.
Dolom highlighted that water security is the main objective of the plan, while “the improvement of biodiversity, land cover, and forest cover” are just the “other benefits” of it.
On January 30 to February 1, a Sarangani RDP Formulation Workshop was held at General Santos City where the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Provincial, Municipal, and city ENROs, and other partner stakeholders participated in for the crafting of the RDP.
During the workshop, MENROs presented their work and financial plans, including their reforestation activities, commodities, target or priority watershed areas/sites, and estimated budget. The mechanisms, as well as the challenges of the plan, were also discussed.
Among these challenges, Dolom said, include “how to integrate the already existing programs and initiatives from different sectors in order to maximize the effort of the stakeholders.”
Another challenge anticipated will be the sustainability of the plan, including the monitoring strategies of each LGU.
With this, Globe Telecom partnered with USAID and distributed mobile phones to all local government units involved to help support the environmental law enforcement system of the LGUs.
A total of 36 mobile phones were given to be used for planning, recording observations, patrolling, monitoring, and security of threats through the Lawin Forest Protection System.
Lawin is an innovative system that combines forest condition monitoring using mobile phones, environmental law enforcement, water security strengthening, and local community participation in forest protection.
“The RDP is an urgent call for the rehabilitation and restoration of our ecosystem in the province,” PENRO Rolando “Bong” Tuballes said.
Dolom backed him up saying that “we really have to do interventions as early as now because the forest cover in Sarangani is declining and this problem will be intensified because of climate change.”
The RDP, according to Tuballes, is anticipated to be a 9-year plan as mandated by Governor Pacquiao. “The governor had a marching order to PENRO to have this flagship program on reforestation, conservation, and rehabilitation,” he said.
“The best time to plant a tree was 40 years ago, but the right time to plant a tree is now.” This was the battle cry of Tuballes as he urged LGUs and partner stakeholders to “contribute significantly” in this cause. (Jori Mae R. Samillano/SARANGANI PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE)
Photos by Jake Narte and Mosler Paul Lapore