Ipo Watershed Rangers Get Needed Support Against Illegal Loggers

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Ipo Watershed by Gregg Yan & WWF

They don’t pack high-tech gear nor high-caliber weapons, but the Dumagat rangers of Ipo Watershed patrol Bulacan’s forests like it were their home. Because it is.

“Sometimes we spend up to three days patrolling these mountains,” gestures veteran ranger Bayani Cruz to the distant mountains east of Ipo Dam, already scarred by kaingin or slash-and burn farmers. “Conditions are rough, especially during the monsoon season, when rivers swell and trails turn to streams – but we always do our duty. We earn only one hundred Pesos per day – but we don’t do this just for money. We are Dumagat. We were born in the forest and we are just protecting our homes.”

Sporting simple tools and gear donated by mountaineers, the rangers work day and night to protect the Sierra Madre mountain range against illegal loggers, slash-and-burn farmers and charcoal collectors. With little gear and basic pay, they’ve had a tough run, but they finally got help.

Last 10 January, the watershed’s rangers received solar lamps and mobile chargers from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) and AVolution, a digital signage solutions company whose core business is to supply and install LED screens across the Philippines. A total of 52 lamps were made available to the rangers to augment their capacity to patrol at night, while allowing them to charge their mobile phones and other communications gear, increasing the range of foot patrols.

“Our LED There be Light initiative illuminates distant communities and helps locals do their jobs without relying on dangerous, dirty and expensive kerosene or carbide lamps,” explains AVolution’s President and General Manager Lani Kimber Campos. AVolution also gave 200 solar lamps to farmers in Brgy. Tiniguiban, Gumaca, Quezon Province last year.

Ipo Watershed, together with the Angat and Umiray watersheds, supply 98% of the water consumed by Metro Manila. Situated northeast of the sprawling Metropolis, it covers 7161 hectares in Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte in Bulacan, plus Rodriguez in Rizal.

Sadly, the watershed’s forests are in full retreat. Though protected by several proclamations including a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title for the Indigenous Dumagat tribes of the watershed, the area is pockmarked by patches of bare soil. From 85%, forest cover plummeted to 40% in recent years. The government and groups like the UP Mountaineers have been helping locals protect the watershed.

WWF and its allies, which include Banco de Oro, Samsung and the Sunlife Foundation, recently joined the fray. “The deployment of solar lamps is just part of a larger initiative to protect the entire watershed,” explains WWF-Philippines Project Manager Paolo Pagaduan, who formerly oversaw a watershed conservation project in Rizal.

“We’re now working to develop a sustainable watershed management plan, form an effective management body for all micro-watersheds, aid groundwater recharge, minimize erosion and siltation, mitigate pollution through waste management, conduct regular monitoring and the evaluation of interventions and replant denuded areas to provide livelihood opportunities and maximize forest recovery. Simply put, we’re going beyond tree-planting,” he explains.
Through the efforts of the aptly-named Bayani, plus the rest of the rangers protecting the Ipo Watershed, Metro Manila’s 12 million residents can rest easy, knowing there will always be water to drink.


Renewable Energy is key to Ph Development

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Clean and renewable energy sources like geothermal, hydro, wind, biomass and solar energy are among the country’s few competitive advantages – especially since it has no significant deposits of fossil-fuels. Its continued dependence on imported fuel has made Philippine electricity rates among the highest in Asia.

Relying more on RE has brought down the cost of electricity with fuel diversity, shielding Filipinos from price fluctuations as no fuel cost is incurred. This shows the care or Malasakit of the government, particularly coupled with increased energy access with distributed RE reaching off-grid communities.

“With the government’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2017 until 2022 now being finalized, we challenge the government to increase the share of RE to 50% by 2030,” explains WWF-Philippines climate and energy programme head Atty. Gia Ibay. “Green and sustainable development fits perfectly with the administration’s mantra of Malasakit, Pagbabago at Kaunlaran because RE provides affordable, sustainable and accessible electricity – especially for remote communities.”   More

Vertical Race and More at BPI To Fund Eco-Friendly Village

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Press Update:

Employees of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) tackled 20 flights of stairs plus a host of grueling physical and mental challenges in the annual BPI Vertical Race, which will fund an eco-friendly village in Guinhadap, Masbate.

Over 200 participants climbed to the top of the BPI headquarters in Makati last December 10, 2016, where top male athlete Jose Augurio de Vera Jr.finished in 4:42. Top female athlete Jules Villamor completed all challenges in 5:18, while fastest group ‘Team N’ breezed through the race in 4:24.

The Vertical Race is part of BPI’s employee donation campaign. Launched in October 2016, the move generated P250,000 to support the World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF’s Earth Hour Village in one of the poorest Philippine provinces, Masbate. More

WWF Teaching Climate Change and Health to Students

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wwf-environmental-educators-by-gregg-yan-wwf-4-1Press Update:

It’s a chilly January morning but the classrooms of the General Roxas Elementary School in Quezon City are heating up, abuzz with the chitter-chatter of nearly 100 students, discussing ideas and listening to WWF-Philippines National Ambassadors Marc Nelson, Rovilson Fernandez, plus a team of environmental educators from WWF-Philippines and Pascual Laboratories.

“Can you guys name all the vegetables in the song Bahay Kubo?” asks kuya Rovilson, alluding to a popular Filipino children’s song. “Regularly eating vegetables can build up your immune system and shield you from cough, colds and other sicknesses brought on by stronger typhoons,” he explains.   More

Happy Green Holidays From WWF

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This Holiday season, let less be more.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) estimates that humanity is currently using the resources of 1.6 planets, meaning many of its resources are no longer naturally replenished. With the global population expected to breach nine billion by 2050, we need to learn to minimize our consumption today!  

Celebrate a green or eco-friendly Christmas by recycling decor, opting for energy-efficient lights and heeding these 10 quick tips to help minimize humanity’s holiday carbon footprint. After all – a fun, simple and meaningful period of reflection is our best gift to the Earth. More

WWF Living Planet 2016 Report 50% Drop in Population

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Press Update:
WWF’s Living Planet Report is produced every two years and is a comprehensive study of trends in global biodiversity and the overall health of our planet.

By providing an overview of the state of the natural world, human impacts and potential solutions, it aims to support governments, communities, businesses and organizations to make informed decisions on using and protecting the planet’s resources.

Key findings in the Living Planet Report 2016 show that from 1970 to 2012, there was a 58 per cent overall decline in vertebrate population sizes – In other words, the population abundance of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have, on average, dropped by more than half in little more than 40 years.

This is an average annual decline of 2 per cent – and there is no sign yet that this rate will decrease. If this downward trend persists, species populations could decline on average by 67 per cent by 2020, within only half a century.

Click link below for the summary of the Living Planet Report 2016.

Living Planet 2016 Report

Education is Key to Saving Mountains

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Burning Vegetation by Gregg Yan (1)

Mountain fires take forever to put off. Takes days and weeks, by that time so much damage has been done. We must do our part in preventing this because more often than not, WE are the ones responsible. Carelessness and lack of concern. We must educate ourselves if we want to continue enjoying our forests, hiking, camping, or plainly breathing fresh air. We  must educate ourselves NOW.  Read on . . .

How Fire breaks, Education Can Save Philippine Mountains

By Gregg Yan

Clearly, El Niño, dry vegetation and fire don’t mix.

Mt. Apo, the country’s highest, Mt. Kanlaon, tallest of all Visayan peaks, and Bud Bongao, the holy mountain of Tawi-Tawi – are in flames.

Mt. Apo and Bud Bongao are burning because of errant campfires while Mt. Kanlaon discharged superheated rocks to ignite vegetation baked dry by El Niño. In April 2015, Mt. Kanlaon also lost 29 hectares due to an errant campfire.


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