Watershed trees lost to ravages of El Niño

Posted on May 21, 2015

DAVAO CITY -- About 300 various seedlings out of 1,000 planted in the city’s watershed areas under an agro-forestry program did not survive the dry spell brought about by the prevailing El Niño, the environmental group Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS) reported.

IDIS Program Coordinator Chinke Pelino said the group has temporarily stopped planting activities and intends to resume by June in the hope of rain brought about by the wet season.

The Philippine weather bureau has issued an advisory saying that the current mild El Niño could extend to the second half of the year.

IDIS reported that the 1,000 seedlings planted include fruit bearing trees like durian, cacao, santol, and guyabano, as well Hibiscus tiliaceus, a tree known to protect river banks, and Chrysopogon zizanioides, or vetiver grass.

Mary Ann V. Fuertes, IDIS executive director, said the trees identified for the agro-forestry program are those ideal for intercropping and planned for long-term yield.

The Adopt-a-Riverbank Project,funded by the Foundation for the Philippine Environment, has also been launched to encourage private sector participation in the community efforts.

Other livelihood initiatives have also been introduced under the program to help generate additional income for riverbank residents.

Bantay Bukid groups, with personnel deputized as forest guards, have also been organized to protect the watersheds.

Meanwhile, Ms. Fuertes reiterated the group’s call on the local government to hasten the delineation and demarcation of critical areas covered by the city’s Watershed Code.

Ms. Fuertes said while the Watershed Management Council started the activity through a Memorandum of Agreement signed in November 2012, the processing of actual demarcation documents has been slow.

The delineation project is intended to establish boundary marks along the riverbanks of barangays Tambobong, Tamugan, Wines, Gumalang and Tawantawan to clearly define areas that should be protected and rehabilitated. -- Maya M. Padillo