Pampanga has lowest forest cover in Philippines-A A +A
Sunday, March 17, 2013
CLARK FREEPORT -- The province of Pampanga now ranks among the provinces with the lowest forest cover in the Philippines, a designation that presents a challenge to water utilities and sectors here to reassess conditions of its watersheds and look into possible environmental initiatives to keep water supplies adequate.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio told members of the Pampanga Association of Water Districts over the weekend that water districts play the most crucial role.
“Water districts carry much of the responsibility to our people, especially when water is scarce. Water availability depends much on the condition of our watersheds. Nationwide our forest cover has been reduced to only 24 percent of our land area,” Ignacio said, stressing that this statistics is second lowest in Southeast Asia next only to Singapore, which practically has no forest.
Ignacio said Central Luzon has similar forest cover at 23.8 percent of land area but was quick to note that this is only because one of the region’s provinces has 69.7 percent forest cover, which is one of the highest in the country -- the province of Aurora.
“In your region can also be found the province with one of the lowest forest cover in the Philippines at only 5,796 hectares or 3.2 percent of its land area which is the province of Pampanga,” Ignacio added.
Recently, the government has launched the National Greening program which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares in six years which started in 2010. This means planting more trees in six years than what government has done in the past 50 years.
“If we do not do this, it will take us 340 years to reforest our country, so far, we have already planted more than 175 million trees in 351,000 hectares,” Ignacio said.
In Pampanga, the DENR has planted 760,000 trees in 1,500 hectares. The agency is also planning to plant an additional of one million trees in three years with an overall target to plant 1.7 million trees in 3,390 hectares until 2016.
But Ignacio admits that this will only be able to increase the province’s forest cover to 3.2 percent to 5.0 percent.
“We need your help, I am sure most of you had already planted but we can do much more. The DENR would like to partner with the water districts to increase our capacity to plant in order to have more trees that can generate more water for the Kapampangans,” Ignacio said, adding this will also lessen flooding.
The Philippines has only one source of water. The country gets plenty of rains that are stored underground, 421 major rivers and 79 lakes. The country has about 421 billion cubic meters of water resources.
However, water resources in the country are unevenly distributed with 20 percent of the population still without access to water.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 18, 2013.