WITH problems of climate change upon us, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) named seven priority thrusts and programs for the coming months.

DENR Regional Executive Director Clarence Baguilat said the priorities are important in maintaining biodiversity in remaining forested areas in the region with the year 2010 being the International Year of Biodiversity.

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Included among the thrusts of the agency is Hunger Mitigation with implementation of eight livelihood projects through peoples’ organizations covering 418 hectares located in Sallapadan and Manabo in Abra; Kapangan in Benguet; Kiangan and Alfonso Lista in Ifugao; Tanudan and Tabuk in Kalinga; and Natonin, Mountain Province.

Baguilat said in Natonin for example, they enjoined people’s organizations to conduct livelihood trainings for its residents through the Fiber Industry Development Authority by choosing indigenous plants such as abaca in providing livelihood to the residents.

The DENR is also bent in introducing the Upland Development Program which is set to rehabilitate 2,205 hectares of denuded forests in the six provinces of the region through agroforestry and planting of indigenous plants like bamboo and rubber and trees.

Land distribution and disposition will also be given focus by the agency with the implementation of the Residential Free Patents Law by issuing 10,559 patents covering 4,832 hectares of alienable and disposable land.

Aside from the other hunger mitigation and poverty reduction projects, titling of school sites are also in the list of programs to be conducted until the end of the year which includes preparation of 93 draft proclamations of school sites and endorse them to the Land Management Bureau of the agency in Manila.

One of the projects the agency is also rounding-up is the Cadastral Survey of lands, which targeted the three municipalities of Tubo in Abra, and Sabangan and Besao in Mountain Province.

This survey resulted to the establishment of 491 project control points and establishment of 491 political boundary monuments which identifies forestline boundary between in Abra and Mountain Province.

Aside from forest boundary delineation, the environment agency also considers integrated watershed management planning of priority watersheds and major river basins such as the Naguilian river watershed were also completed early this year.

Moreover, together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the DENR also implemented its joint memorandum circular on communal forests, which assessed and mapped 14 communal watersheds found in all provinces in the region.

Other than the DILG, DENR also conducted joint implementation of memorandum circular 2008-01 on sustainable indigenous forest management systems and practices with the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples which targeted six sites for this year. (JM Agreda)