LMFR-SC addresses forest reserve issues and concerns

LMFR-SC addresses forest reserve issues and concerns

The multi-stakeholder Lower Magat Forest Reserve Steering Committee (LMFR-SC), co-chaired by Governor Carlos M. Padilla of the Provincial Government of Nueva Vizcaya (PGNV) and Regional Executive Director Dr. Gwendolyn C. Bambalan of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Region 02 Office (DENR-02), held its 1st quarter meeting on February 20, 2023 at the Nueva Vizcaya Conference Center, Lower Magat Ecotourism Park (LMETP) in San Luis, Diadi.

The LMFR-SC has approved resolutions in response to reported pressing issues and concerns pertaining to the current status of the wildlife at the LMETP, management of the LMETP and projects implemented within the LMFR, application for Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) for the LMETP, and proposed renewal of the LMFR Co-management Memorandum of Agreement (MOA-CM) between the DENR and PGNV, among others.

The major decisions of the special body that it will act upon and/or endorse to concerned agencies were:

(a) Support the proposed establishment of the LMETP as a Wildlife Rescue Center (WRC);

(b) The PGNV to continue on managing the LMETP for which it has so far completed at least fourteen development projects as of January 31, 2023, through the Provincial Engineering Office (PEO), Provincial Tourism and Culture Office (PTCO), and PENARO, not to mention the site improvements and interventions provided by other partner government offices and agencies, and NGOs;

(c) The PGNV and DENR to jointly oversee and help in fast-tracking the processing of the LMETP’s application for ECC;

(d) Limit the coverage area of the proposed MOA extension from the whole 24k-hectare LMFR to just the 400k-hectare LMETP that registered from 2010 to 2020 a Deforestation Rate of 22.57%, as compared to the 53.25% and 74.58% rates of the LMFR and Tenured Areas within the LMFR, respectively, which are all way above the 7.70% whole-of-province rate;

(e) Designate For. Henry P. Patricio, Chief of the Nueva Vizcaya Watershed Management Committee Operations and Coordination Unit (NVWMC-OCU), and For. Tito A. Tanguilig, PGNV’s PENAR Officer, as members of the Technical Working Group tasked to prepare the province’s Performance Evaluation Report covering the 25-year term of the old MOA that is expiring on February 25, 2023; and

(f) Request the Joint Task Force composed primarily of representatives from the DAR, DENR, LRA, and NCIP to help in addressing the issues and concerns raised that fall within its competent jurisdiction, which include certain Certificates of Land Ownership Awards (CLOAs) granted under the Agrarian Reform Program, and the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) application of the Gaddang ethnolinguistic group covering 15,089 hectares located within the LMFR.

Bagabag Mayor Benigno B. Calauad and Diadi Mayor Sandy M. Gayaton, regular members of the LMFR-SC representing the municipalities where the LMFR is situated, were also in attendance.

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