February 5, 2021
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are working with farmers in Quirino Province in Cagayan Valley to boost cooperation in caring for forestlands and mitigating flood hazards in vulnerable areas.
The Forestland Management Project (FMP) is an ongoing 10-year development cooperation that seeks to protect some 71,300 hectares of forest resources in the country's watershed areas such as Jalaur Watershed in Iloilo; Upper Magat and Cagayan River Basin in Ifugao, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino; and Pampanga River Basin in Nueva Ecija.
The massive flooding in Cagayan Valley recently brought to light the need for sustainable approaches in forestland management. Studies point to kaingin-making (slash and burn), mining, and forest conversion to non-forest uses as causes of deforestation in the Philippines. When forests are depleted, mudslides and flooding in low-lying areas due to heavy rains combined with climate change conditions pose hazards to people and communities.
Thus, the project aims to address deforestation through participatory planning, site development, capacity building of people's organizations, and agroforestry support facilities.
Already, some 149 people's organizations mostly composed of farmers benefited from FMP. In Quirino, the Ifugao Village Upland Farmers Association (IVUFA) composed of 138 farmers and members partnered with DENR in the management of 138 hectares of agroforestry land. FMP also provided them with an irrigation facility to improve crop production and PHP 100,000 seed money for enterprise development.
"The project aims to encourage people's participation in forest conservation, while enhancing access to social services and connectivity of upland communities," said JICA Philippines Senior Representative EBISAWA Yo. "The pandemic and different natural hazards from climate change should be a wake-up call for all of us to work together in managing natural resources sustainably."
FMP is one of several ongoing JICA projects in the Philippines that support environmental conservation and management. The others, to name a few, are The Project for Comprehensive Assessment and Conservation of Blue Carbon Ecosystems and Their Services in the Coral Triangle (BlueCARES), Non-Revenue Water Improvement Project in the West Zone of Metro Manila, Capacity Development on Improving Solid Waste Management through Advanced/Innovative Technologies, Septage Management of Metro Cebu Water District, and Verification Survey with Private Sector for Disseminating Japanese Technologies for Recycling Waste Cooking Oil as Substitute for Diesel.