Benguet eyes watershed merging

THE BENGUET Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office is eyeing to include Mount Sto. Tomas in the list of protected environmental areas in the province.

During a consultation in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources officer (PENRO) Julio Lopez said their office is planning to merge the Mt. Sto. Tomas as part of the adjacent Marcos Highway Watershed Forest Reservation.

Lopez said Mt. Sto. Tomas at present is classified as a watershed reservation and is not a protected area.

"Sto. Tomas is just a watershed reservation which means it is not a part of the existing protected areas. We would like to include it in the forest reservation," Lopez said.

Lopez added PENRO is preparing to create a Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to oversee the management of Mt. Sto. Tomas once included as a protected area.

"The reason why we want to merge the two areas is for the creation of this PAMB. It will be the legal basis to keep an eye on the protection of the expanded protected area," said Lopez.

Lopez presented to the board a Forest Management Plan to be incorporated for the proposed PAMB, which can be used for the possible merging of the areas.

At present the 6,105 hectare Marcos Highway watershed is under the supervision and jurisdiction of the Baguio City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

Lopez added DENR Central Office is still reviewing the proposed creation of a new PMB.

"They are still reviewing it, this include the submitted Forest Land Use Plan, which will be the basis of approving the budget worth P11 million," Lopez closed.
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