TACLOBAN CITY- The regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-8) entered a memorandum of agreement with the local government unit of Paranas in Samar for the management and conservation of the Ulot Watershed Model Forest (UWMF).
DENR Regional Executive Director Leonardo Sibbaluca said that he and Paranas Mayor Felix Babalcon signed the agreement that would help on the protection and conservation of the UWMF biodiversity and forest resources as well as development and management of ecotourism and other sustainable development activities in the area.
Aside from Paranas, the UWMF covers the municipalities of Taft and Can-avid in Eastern Samar; San Jose de Buan, and Hinabangan, all in Samar covering a total area of 86,514 hectares.
It is one of the eight watersheds covered by the Samar Island Natural Park (SINP) and is considered to be the remaining forest frontier of Region 8.
“Protecting and conserving the remaining resources of the Samar Island Natural Park and the Ulot Watershed Model Forest is a big challenge for us. We at the DENR cannot do it alone; that is why we are seeking the help of the different stakeholders to help us protect and conserve this biologically and globally significant natural heritage”, Sibbaluca stressed.
He said that several projects are being implemented for the UWMF which include, among others, the ongoing ecotourism development projects; the International Model Forest Network Funded Project dubbed as “Forest Landscape Restoration”; reforestation and establishment of tree plantations using the funds generated from the trees cut by the Millennium Challenge Corporation road development project; the forest development project funded by the German International Cooperation which is already approved in principle and community based forest management project activities regularly funded by the DENR.
Mayor Babalcon in an interview said that he is committed to work with the DENR for an extensive campaign on forest protection and law enforcement to deter illegal loggers and charcoal makers from their destructive activities.
“We are looking at the implementation of livelihood projects as part of the solution to forest destruction. We will also tie up with schools offering forestry courses for our scholarship program as we encourage our constituents to let their children take forestry course so that in the future they will help in the management of their own forest”, Babalcon said. (RESTITUTO A. CAYUBIT)