Friday, May 22, 2009

DENR-ARMM, Upi signs MOA on Forest Stewardship

COTABATO CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-ARMM and the Local Government of Upi, Maguindnao signed a memorandum of agreement on Forest Land Use Plan (FLUP) and co-management of the forest lands in the municipality. The project is a program of the DENR in cooperation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its Ecological Governance (EcoGov) Program.

DENR-ARMM Regional Secretary Kabuntalan P. Emblawa, Al-Haj and Upi Municipal Mayor Ramon A. Piang, Sr. signed the MOA last Monday, May 18, 2009 at the Estosan Garden Hotel here. The signing was witnessed by DENR-ARMM officials, municipal and barangay officials from Upi, provincial environment officers from Maguindanao, representatives from the Ecological Governance Program of the USAID and media practitioners.

DENR-ARMM Assistant Regional Secretary Alindatu K. Pagayao said that the FLUP is in pursuance of Muslim Mindanao Act 161 or the Regional Sustainable Forest Management Act (RSFMA) to enhance the ecological and environmental functions of the forest lands in Upi while increasing its resource capacity to support the sustainable livelihood and biodiversity of Upians.

“It will also be the basis for protecting, managing, utilizing and developing the forests and forest lands,” Pagayao said.

Pagayao said the program will cover 20,000 hectares of forest lands in 23 barangays in the municipality. He added that the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in the area were also consulted through IP representatives in the program to strengthen the participation of the grassroots.

Secretary Emblawa said that Upi is only the second LGU in the ARMM who has completed and duly legitimized its FLUP through its Sangguniang Bayan. He said that the first municipality to complete and implement its FLUP is the municipality of Wao who had already received P3.9 million funding for the program.

“I would like to thank the USAID-EcoGov program for this strong support, with the hope that there would be more LGUs that would benefit from this project,” Emblawa said.

Mayor Piang said this project will greatly help the sustainable management of the forest lands of their town including its protection. Mayor Piang said that these forest lands cover five major watersheds in the area which includes Dimapatoy watershed which is the source of water in Cotabato City.

“This will also provide a venue for our grassroots in the co-management of our forests and forest lands. They will be assisted with livelihood programs without cutting the trees,” Mayor Piang added.

“In behalf of all the people in Upi, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for this partnership. Rest assured that we will do our very best not to frustrate what we have signed today,” Mayor Piang added. (BPI-ARMM)