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Disaster-prone areas in Rizal adopt 'ecotown' program

Taking care of Wawa Dam in Rodriguez, Rizal under the protective policies embodied in the ecotown concept. Photograph from SEARCA.

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - Disaster-prone areas in the province of Rizal have adopted climate change policies embodied in an "eco-town" program under a project commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

The Protected Area Management Board of the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL), also called "Marikina Watershed," has adopted the Climate Resilience and Green Growth Road Map developed under the ADB-funded program Climate Resilience and Green Growth in UMRBPL: Demonstrating the Ecotown Framework.

The project covers five local government units (LGUs) in Rizal province – Tanay, San Mateo, Rodriguez, Baras, and Antipolo City – which form part of the protected area.

An ecotown is described as an environmentally sustainable community that aims to achieve zero net carbon dioxide emission and other greenhouse gases (GHG), according to a Climate Change Commission.

This project enables the LGUs to take on what was previously considered the vague or unreal concept of climate change as they set out to implement proper agricultural and environmental management practices.

"Even if you don't have data, you know that climate change has influence on agricultural production.  We should be prepared for climate change and implement adaptation measures so that benefits trickle down to the grassroots," said Gil C. Saguiguit, SEARCA Director.

Dr. Ancha Srinivasan, ADB climate change specialist, cite that among specific measures piloted in UMRBPL are bio-charcoal briquetting for Marikina, San Mateo, Rodriguez, Tanay, and Baras, species establishment and rehabilitation in Tanay, Rodriguez, and Baras, and check dams piloted in Antipolo City and San Mateo.

These activities help mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of climate change, such as flooding and landslides. Instead of cutting trees in the protected area to produce charcoal, natives turn to bio-charcoal briquetting as livelihood. Check dams also prevent soil erosion and excessive flooding as these become water storage and source of irrigation for farming too.

Another ADB and CCCC program, Climate Resilience and Green Growth in Critical Watersheds, was also commissioned to SEARCA, and made to apply the same ecotown development planning process.

This project covers Camarines Sur (Milaor, San Fernando, Naga City), Davao Oriental (Banganga, Boston, Cateel), and Lower Marikina (Cainta, Marikina City, Quezon City) 

Dr. Lope B. Santos III, SEARCA program specialist, said that "the ecotown development planning process includes baseline analysis, natural resources assessment, greenhouse gas emission (GHG) emission inventory, sectoral vulnerability and risk assessment, cost benefit analysis of identified priority adaptation and mitigation measures, preparation of climate resilience and green growth road map and local climate change action plan."

In another project commissioned to SEARCA by the Department of Agriculture, strengthening Adaptation and Mitigation Initiatives in Agriculture (AMIA), a landscape planning approach is being pushed for sustainable agriculture and environmental management.

SEARCA Director Saguiguit  turned over last Dec 5, 2016 the output of the AMIA project to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

AMIA redefines DA's national framework in addressing climate change in agriculture, and serves as the umbrella program covering climate change across all programs, functions, and agencies at DA.

"Now, with the tools developed and technologies identified, for instance, you can schedule planting, and you know where to avoid putting certain crops because erosion is rampant there. It's a holistic approach to environmental management," Saguiguit said.

Another collaborator in AMIA is the University of the Philippines Los Baños Foundation Inc.

Saguiguit said: "Our hope is that LGUs will use and maximize the results of these projects in updating their Comprehensive Land Use Plan and in preparing local climate change action plans."

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