Ecological services

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Monday, December 9, 2013


Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. will earmark earnings of Negros Occidental from carbon credits to fund health, education and sustainable livelihood projects. The earnings will allow the construction of hospitals and farm to market roads, and fund scholarships, among other projects.

The Governor and Christopher Frederick, Sovereign Green Global Australia Limited director, signed a Memorandum of Understanding that covers the implementation of a Clean Development Mechanism.

The source of carbon credits will be the province’s 100,000 hectares of forestlands that can generate US$200 million of carbon credits anchored on a minimum value pegged at US$2,000 per hectare.

This is of course a welcome development, a feather to the cap of Governor Marañon and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Under the MOU, SGGA committed to meet its deliverables with 50 percent of the monetized funds going to various humanitarian, economic, environmental, education, health, sustainable livelihood and wealth-creation activities and social welfare programs of the province, while the remaining 50 percent stays with the SGGA to cover the company’s operational and management costs during the lifespan of the project.

The agreement gives credit where credit is due, the watersheds, all located in the remote, rugged terrain of the Negros Occidental Mountains.

Mountain-based watersheds not only have native Philippine hardwoods and wildlife, they also house human communities who use the forests for their sources of livelihoods. These forests also provide haven to Maoist insurgents.

If the carbon credits are to be spent wisely, the provincial government has to enshrine into law sustainable mountain development, based on Chapter 13 of Agenda 21, the UN’s blueprint for sustainable development.

It’s high time that the provincial government follows through with the 2002 Provincial Board Resolution declaring its support to Chapter 13 during the global celebration of the International Year of the Mountains (IYM). In December 11, the UN celebrates International Mountain Day.

Back then, mountain stakeholders that included the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, provincial government, non-government organizations, academia, and faith communities signed the IYM covenant to arrest the degradation of the mountains… that has spiraled into further tree losses, soil erosion, water crisis, floods and droughts;
Preserve the mountains as islands of biodiversity in the midst of landscapes of monoculture, where because of their isolation, have provided a haven for life forms and bestowed them with plants, animals, wildlife, with trees, forests, with water and with food;
Respect the mountain women and men who over the millennia stood as guardians and stewards of mountain biodiversity, who with their indigenous knowledge in managing their community resources, in identifying plants with healing powers and other uses and in harvesting food, fodder and fuelwood from forests are helping sustain our food and our life;
Work for peace, justice and human rights which because of inequitable access to resources, has degenerated into flash points of armed conflicts – from the mountains of Negros, Basilan and Afghanistan – represent the most significant barriers to sustaining the development of mountains, and;
Enable mountain peoples to achieve empowerment through programs and policies that include reinvesting forest revenues for mountain communities and environmental protection; supporting community-based property rights, promoting sustainable agriculture; linking indigenous and mainstream scientific knowledge systems; decentralizing power and accountability and forging alliances of various sectors, communities, faith and nations.
(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on December 09, 2013.

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