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Legarda: Manage Forests, Water Resources for Present and Future Filipinos

March 21, 2017

Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the importance of the sustainable management of the country’s forests and water resources so that both present and future generations would benefit from our natural resources.

Legarda, UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience, made the statement in celebration of the International Day of Forests (March 21) and World Water Day (March 22).

“Our forests provide various ecosystem services, the most basic of which is production of food and supply of water. Certainly, we need to manage our forests in a manner that would ensure that these ecosystem services would be sufficiently provided to our people now as well as to the future Filipinos,” she explained.

According to the United Nations, sustainably managed forests can supply clean air, water and energy. Forests cover 30% of land and are home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects, but 3 million hectares of our forests are lost per year.

“We should develop and adopt a sustainable forest management strategy based on rational allocation of forestland uses and promotion of land use practices that increase productivity and conserve soil, water, and other forestland resources. We should protect existing forest resources and conserve biodiversity, and rehabilitate or develop denuded areas,” Legarda said.

Meanwhile, the Senator also stressed the need to craft a roadmap for sustainable water use.

“Water is a very basic need yet we still have communities in the country that have no access to clean and potable water. The continued overlapping and fragmented regulation of water supply services in the country by several government entities is one factor that hinders the enactment of a doable and long-term solution to prevent water shortage,” Legarda said.

A study by the World Resources Institute revealed that the Philippines will likely experience severe water shortage by 2040 due to the combined impact of rapid population growth and climate change. Furthermore, the Philippines ranks 57 out of 167 countries that are highly vulnerable to severe water shortage.

“Water is a human right and the State must ensure that the water in our lakes, rivers and other sources of freshwater reaches our faucets and is fully maximized. Every citizen must have access to potable water but this must be sustained in the long term. In order to achieve this, we must reform the water industry itself and lay down a roadmap to ensure water security for the country,” she explained.

Legarda said that the protection of our forests is also essential in improving water security. Forested watersheds and wetlands supply 75% of the world’s accessible freshwater.

“We must ensure that we sustainably manage our forests, protected areas and water resources so that we supply the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” Legarda concluded.