Public support sought for protection of Tagum Libuganon river basin

Tagum Libuganon River Basin
Tagum Libuganon River BasinTagum Libuganon River Basin/Facebook

DAVAO DEL NORTE — Local and national government leaders call for public support to conserve and protect the Tagum Libuganon River Basin (TLRB) following the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation and Manifesto of Support for the TLRB Management and Development Masterplan.

The signing ceremony was held during the Local River Basin Summit on March 19, 2024 in Tagum City during which the ecosystems-based adaptation or nature-based solutions were presented by Dr. Klaus Schmitt, German cooperation agency principal advisor on the GIZ E2RB Project.

In his welcome message, Davao del Norte Gov. Edwin I. Jubahib stressed the need to protect the Pantaron Range that provides the forest cover and serves as the headwater for three regions in Mindanao: Davao Region, Northern Mindanao Region, and the Caraga Region.

He even proposed a resolution to the TLRB Management Council to endorse to the Office of the President, through the Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary, the declaration of Pantaron Range as a Protected Mountain Range.

Data from DENR-11 showed that the Pantaron Range in the Davao del Norte side alone covers approximately 32,212 hectares or 10.17 percent of the 316,845.78 hectares total land area of TLRB.

TLRB covers the cities of Tagum and Panabo, and the municipalities of Asuncion, Braulio E. Dujali, Carmen, Kapalong, New Corella, San Isidro, Sto. Tomas and Talaingod in the province of Davao del Norte. The municipalities of Monkayo, Mawab, Montevista, Nabunturan and Laak of Davao de Oro are also part of the TLRB.

It also stretches its area coverage to Davao City; Loreto, Agusan del Sur; and the municipalities of San Fernando and Cabanglasan in Bukidnon.

In her keynote message, DENR Assistant Secretary for Field Operations in Eastern Mindanao Ruth Tawantawan raised concerns about the vulnerability of the country’s river basins to the “looming water crisis.”

She revealed that the National Water Resources Board has identified 21 groundwater-stressed zones, and Davao City is on that list.

She added that “our Tagum Libuganon River Basin is also among the 15-water stressed river basins where “27 percent of the Philippine population lives in these areas.”

Citing water scarcity as a potential cause of unrest, she placed crucial importance on water security through collaboration in working towards sustainable access to clean and safe water, “which is considered as a basic right.”

In her message, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda)-11 Regional Director Priscilla Sonido said that responsible water resource management is highlighted in the Davao Regional Development Plan 2023-2028, particularly in Chapter 4.3 on “Establishing Livable Communities and on Accelerating Climate Action and Strengthening Disaster Resilience.”

“It is important to recognize the significant impact that river basins have on all stakeholders in our region. This emphasizes the need for active involvement from all parties in managing water resources,” Sonido said.

Meanwhile, Schmitt explained the ecosystems-based adaptation (EbA) as an integral and sustainable approach to managing the TLRB as stated in the TLRB Masterplan.

He said EbA is the “use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.

“EbA is a people-centric concept but one that acknowledges that human resilience depends on the integrity of ecosystems,” he said.

On the other hand, regional directors of key national agencies including the Office of Civil Defense, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and Mindanao Development Authority, among others signed the Manifesto of Support along with the local chief executives of local government units in covered areas of TLRB, and other stakeholders, and DENR officials.

The manifesto acknowledged the threats facing the TLRB such as deforestation, pollution, habitat degradation, and unsustainable land practices “that pose challenges to its health and resilience.”

The signatories affirm their commitment to “taking decisive action to safeguard the Tagum Libuganon River Basin for future generations.” PIA DAVAO


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