BAUKO, Mountain Province – The local government is studying the possibility of declaring the whole municipality as an Environmental Critical Area Network (ECAN) similar to what had been done in Palawan to guarantee the sustained efforts to preserve and protect the town’s environment from rapid deterioration.
Bauko, which plays host to most of the areas within the Mount Data National Park, has a total land area of over 34,000 hectares and composed of 22 barangays distributed around strategic portions of the reservation where most of the said areas are considered to be forested.
Mayor Abraham B. Akilit explained the declaration of the municipality as an ECAN will have to pass through Congress, thus, details of the proposed law are currently being worked on prior to its submission to both chambers.
“We will consult the residents on what will be the prohibited acts and what will be the regulated activities for us to be able to strike a balance between nature and the living condition of the people within the area” Mayor Akilit stressed.
Under the proposal, concerned government agencies will be providing adequate budgetary support for the conduct of certain regulated activities in the area to sustain the economic activities and sources of livelihood of the inhabitants with the condition that they will no longer encroach the identified critical forested areas aside from actively participating to bring back the greenery of denuded portions of the reservation to significantly increase the forest cover beneficial to various man-made activities,.
According to him, Bauko’s declaration as an ECAN will pave the way for the implementation of numerous interventions that will not affect the economic activities and sources of livelihood of the residents but bestows to them the difficult role of having to protect and expand the forest cover of their places because it will not only be them who will reap the fruits of their efforts but it will also be the present and future residents wanting to make Bauko their home.
He said Bauko as an ECAN will serve as a model community where there will be a balance between the presence of inhabitants in certain areas apart from the thriving of forested areas that will serve as their sources of food and shelter without destroying the present state of the environment within their areas of jurisdiction.
He claimed that under the ECAN set up, the inhabitants will be the partners of government in ensuring the sustained preservation and protection of nature while maximizing the resources for less environmentally critical programs and projects to sustain their living conditions in the places where they are located.
Akilit remains optimistic that concerned government agencies, the communities, the private sector and other local governments will support the town’s desire of becoming the first ever ECAN community in Northern Luzon considering that there is an urgent need for drastic actions to be undertaken to prevent the rapid deterioration of the environment due to the reported massive expansion of vegetable gardens right into the heart of thickly forested portions of the reservation over the past several years amid efforts to protect the same from intruders.