THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the City of San Fernando supported the collective move of the Pampanga Press Club (PPC), the Abacan River and Angeles Watershed Advisory Council Inc. (Araw-ACI) and the Kapatirang Aetas ng Angeles-Porac para sa Kalikasan at Agrikultura (Kaapka) to reforest a portion of the more than 5,000-hectare Abacan Watershed in Barangay Sapang Bato, Angeles City.

With the newly-forged partnership among the organizations, DENR Regional Executive Director Paquito Moreno Jr. noted that their three-year reforestation program would boost efforts to reforest watersheds within the Pampanga River Basin, which would ensure sustainable water supply not only in the province but in other areas in Central Luzon.

“Reforestation can be equated to people investing in the future. We need to protect our watersheds, as they provide us potable and quality water supply,” he said, adding that planting and growing trees could also downscale the looming threats of the global climate crisis.

In Central Luzon, there are nine critical watersheds and 146 watershed forest reserves that supply water to over 26 million residents of Central Luzon and Metro Manila.

Through the Enhanced National Greening Program of the DENR, over 128,000 hectares of forest plantations have been established in the region since 2011.

Moreno applauded the efforts of the organizations to plant trees in the one-hectare plantation area adopted by the PPC in Sitio Sapang Bato, where 300 seedlings of bamboo and Narra were provided by the DENR.

Said adoption falls under the Adopt-a-Watershed Program being implemented by the Araw-ACI, which aims to enlist the support of partner organizations to ensure the sustainable supply of water in Angeles City and in the province of Pampanga, while providing livelihood to the Aetas who serve as stewards of established plantations in the 560-hectare planned watershed.

Under the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) among these three organizations, the PPC acts as the project sponsor, who will fund the project and will be in charge of supplying seedlings and fertilizer, as well as its sustainable water supply.

Kaapka will look after the day-to-day upkeep of area, while the Araw-ACI will oversee the implementation of the project and coordinate with the local government of Angeles City and the Bases Conversion Development Authority.

Moreno served as the witness to the signing of the MOA, with PPC President Noel Tulabut, Araw-ACI President Renato Tayag Jr. and Kaapka President Fred Pan as signatories.