Industry Strategic Science and Technology Plans (ISPs) Platform

Current state of watershed in the Philippines

Destructive activities such as large-scale mining and infrastructure activities have left more than half of the key basins in the Philippines unprotected, posing severe threats to watersheds.

Image Source: Philippine Star

Watersheds play a crucial role in regulating floods, droughts, and other extreme weather events, as well as in managing water resources, and providing habitats for diverse wildlife species. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) identified 6.8 million hectares of watershed areas as susceptible to deforestation, biodiversity loss, erosion, floods, landslides, and water pollution. Additionally, 14.2 million hectares have been identified as critical for the national irrigation system.

Only 22% of the country’s land area, comprising 6.5 million hectares, is safeguarded through presidential proclamations or under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), while 9% of ecologically critical and 55% of agriculturally critical watersheds are without protected status. The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) emphasized the challenging process of granting watershed protection, stating that it took 16 years for Congress to amend the NIPAS Act. An additional 94 landscapes and seascapes were designated as protected areas under the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018.

LRC recommends integrating watershed management councils into core local planning processes and allocating public funds to enhance the capacity of indigenous communities and grassroots organizations in watershed protection and management. Additionally, LRC calls for a moratorium on approval or renewal of agribusiness, mining, dam, and other infrastructure projects until new legislation streamlines watershed regulations and urges local governments to declare watershed reserves as no-go zones for mining and other destructive projects.

Reference: Cabico, G.K. (2023, October 1).Watersheds in Philippines are ‘in a state of crisis’ – report. Philippine Star. Retrieved April 24, 2024 from  https://www.philstar.com/headlines/climate-and-environment/2023/10/01/2300408/watersheds-philippines-are-in-state-crisis-report

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