BAGUIO CITY – The National Climate Change Commission (NCC) underscored the vital role of the Cordillera in mitigating the serious negative effects of climate change to the safety of life and limb in lowland communities, citing that the region remains to be a bustion of environmental services important in sustaining food security for the various parts of Northern Luzon not only to the present generations but also for the future generations of Filipinos.
Commissioner Heherson Alvarez cited the abundant water produced by the Cordillera watersheds have enriched lowland communities over the past several decades but the region never received substantial support to warrant the people to preserve and protect the watershed areas which resulted to the rapid deterioration of the forests primarily due to survival.
“We should not allow the Cordillera to lose the remaining forest cover because it will significantly result to serious problems on food security in the future because vast tracks of agricultural farms in the lowlands will be deprived of sufficient irrigation,” Alvarez stressed.
Alvarez cited there is now an urgent need to abate the rapid forest degradation in the region at a rate of 500 hectares annually in order to sustain its identity as the watershed cradle of Northern Luzon, providing adequate abundant water supply for the four major river systems flowing directly to lowland communities thereby increasing their production and ensuring adequate water supply for power generation.
However, he cited Cordillerans have been constantly deprived of the benefits of being the source of water for agricultural and industrial purposes, especially through various fund allocations for projects geared towards the preservation and protection of the environment when in fact, lowland communities have been directly enjoying the benefits of abundant water supply.
Commissioner Alvarez emphasized there is a need for the national government to refocus its watershed preservation and protection interventions to the Cordillera in order to provide people with adequate sources of livelihood so that they will not be forced to intrude into the remaining forest cover that will have a serious negative effects of deforestation to the state of the country’s agriculture and power generation industries.
According to him, Filipinos are unaware of the vital contribution of the Cordillera to the country’s food security and power generation capacities that is why the region has always been taking a back seat in the distribution of the government’s meagre resources for environmental preservation and protection instead of the Cordillera having a much bigger appropriation from the limited reforestation efforts among others.
He asserted the region’s current 45 percent forest cover needs to be significantly increased through consolidated efforts by stakeholders in order to prevent the significant decrease of water sustaining abundant food production and power generation in the lowlands.
The Cordillera serves as the watershed of the Agno, Chico, Magat and Abra rivers where the 360-megawatt Magat dam, 105-megawatt Ambuclao dam, 126-megawatt and 345-megatt San Roque dam are situated.
Alvarez said it is but proper for lowland communities to extend utmost assistance for the implementation of key watershed preservation and protection interventions that will contribute in bringing back the forest cover of most watersheds in the different parts of the region for the benefit of the present and future generations of Filipinos. By Dexter A. See