Moves for ecosystems integration pushed

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Friday, September 30, 2011

THE Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) put forward a long-term strategy to integrate economy and environment in key development efforts is gaining ground as support for such move is seen firming up.

Representatives from key regional government agencies at the recently-held Validation Workshop for the Mindanao Integrated River Basin and Watershed Development and Management Program (MIRBDMP) expressed support to Minda's strategy on ecological integration.

MIRBDMP is a flagship program espoused by Minda that adopts the river basin and watershed as key platforms for planning. It seeks to provide an enabling mechanism for achieving environmental integrity and sustainable economic development.


"This is what we've been lacking (in Mindanao)," said Marites Ocampo of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Caraga Region.

She said several programs on watershed protection and management are being been done in Mindanao for years, but these efforts were confined to a specific region and needed greater integration.

"We can't keep fixing the problems in the lowlands, without addressing the alarming deforestation in the uplands," Ocampo added and emphasized the need for a more harmonized approach.

The MIRBDMP, which is set for launching in November this year, is expected to put emphasis on ecological value, capitalizing water resources, and optimizing the full potentials of the river basins and watersheds without compromising its carrying capacity.

One situation identified in MIRBDMP's study is the massive siltation and riverbank migration along the Pulangi River caused by deforestation and soil erosion in the uplands that have been causing devastating episodes of flooding in downstream areas.

Also, the flooding incidents in Regions 12 and Armm brought about by the overflowing of the heavily silted Pulangi River, Simuay River, Allah River, and Rio Grande de Mindanao affected 139, 687 families.

"If there is one thing that we will learn from this program, it is that none of us can stand alone in addressing the pressing issues that confront Mindanao as a whole," Ocampo expressed.

Meanwhile, Minda chair Luwalhati Antonino said that there is an urgent need to determine the remaining carrying capacity of Mindanao ecosystems and balance this with the level and kind of development that must be pursued, with the security and safety of the people and the environment in mind.

"One without the other is short-sighted and of limited benefit. It is only when both ends are jointly served that the ultimate goals of development are attained," Antonino stressed.

Asserting the ecosystem as basis for planning Mindanao's sustainable development forms part of the major strategies identified under the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework of Minda.

The said framework suggested that the formulation of a region's socio-economic development plan, especially the public and private investment program within it, must consciously take a systems approach and involve participation of all affected stakeholders within the river basin ecosystem.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 01, 2011.


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