Bicol River News
El Verde Program Benefits Bicol River

The Caramoan Peninsula in the province of Camarines Sur represents an important component of the Southern Luzon Biogeographic Zone and is among the most diverse localities in the Philippines in terms of biodiversity. Biological studies have shown that the Caramoan Peninsula is home to at least 18 species of mammals, 116 species of birds, and 20 species of herpetofauna. Endemism is high at 28 percent for mammals, 37 percent for birds and 55 percent for herpetofauna giving proof of the importance of the Caramoan Peninsula to the overall biological diversity of the Philippines.

However, the rapid social and economic growth in the peninsula during the past 10 years has promoted a high level of degradation due to the increased anthropogenic activities. Already, wide tracts of forest have been degraded, the marine environment is gradually becoming polluted, and there is increased rate of erosion and sedimentation. Not to mention the increasing incidence of hunting and collection of wildlife. While there is no comprehensive assessment done yet on the status of the various species of flora and fauna in the area in relation to the heightened disturbance, there are indications that a few species may have been negatively affected by the changes in their habitats.

In view of the above, the Provincial Government has conceptualized a project that seeks to address the problems affecting biological diversity, climate change and economic development in the province and the pervasive poverty in the rural and upland communities. This priority program is called the El Verde program.

El Verde is program is a biodiversity conservation, economic development and climate change adaptation strategy dedicated to reversing the rate of deforestation in Camarines Sur. It aims to protect the environment, alleviate poverty, provide livelihood and make Camarines Sur the greenest, cleanest and most environment-friendly province in Asia. From 2011 up-to-date there are already 15,119,993 trees planted across the province, 9,900,103 of which are mangrove beach species, 115,000 are bamboo palms and 5,104,890 are forest/fruit bearing trees. Nurseries and rainforestation sites have been established and several schools have participated in the school forest park projects of the program. More than 20,000 families have participated and benefitted from the food for work and cash for work scheme of the progam.

So far, the project has mobilized volunteers to protect the province’s natural resources (e.g Mt. Isarog Guardians (MIGs) and BantayBakawan). It also launched the Lake Bato Conservation Project with the following components: Institutionalization of the Lake Management Board; Rehabilitation of the 500 hectares watershed areas; Sediment Control and Sewage Management; Shift to Organic Agriculture for lakeside farms; Solid Waste Management; Capacity Building and IEC; Effecive Law enforcement.

Furthermore, the project established vetiver grass and bamboo barriers along the bicol riverbank as part of the Bicol River Development Project. Capacity Building among communities in relation to environmental protection and rehabilitation were also conducted.

Overall, the flagship project of the Camarines Sur Provincial Government, El Verde, has greatly benefitted the Bicol River basin.

Bicol River

The Bicol River is the eighth largest river in the Philippines in terms of drainage basin size with an estimated catchment area of 3,770 km²

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