Thursday, March 26, 2015

Watershed Policy Intervention

by Antonio C. Antonio
March 18, 2015

We live in a democratic system where we are guided by laws, rules and regulations, and public policies.  This system of public governance applies not only the lowlands but to the uplands as well.

“Watershed management is the study of the relevant characteristics of a watershed aimed at the sustainable distribution of its resources and the process of creating and implementing plans, programs and projects to sustain and enhance watershed functions that affect the plant, animal and human communities within the watershed boundary.  The features of a watershed that can be the subject to management include water supply, water quality, drainage, stormwater runoff and water rights.”  (Antonio, 2015)  In the management of watershed projects, after periodic and timely assessments may find the need for technical watershed management interventions.  Technical  watershed management interventions are those field level activities that aim to: (1) Change the type of land use enterprise(s) being undertaken; and/or, (2) Change one or more of the component management practices associated with a particular land use enterprise (FMB/DENR, 1998).

Watershed policy interventions are sometimes necessary to change the prevailing policy environment so as to facilitate the adoption of improved field level watershed management practices.  Watershed policy intervention should be designed to (FMB/DENR, 1998):
  1. Eliminate possible conflicts between policies designed to promote short-term production and those designed to encourage long-term sustainability (conservation).
  2. Acknowledge, and to the extent possible, accommodate the diverse perspectives and development priorities of the different stakeholders --- therefore, individual households, rural communities (both indigenous peoples and lowland migrants), sawmill owners, commercial forestry/agriculture companies, urban dwellers, and the government or society as a whole.
  3.  Reconcile national land use planning goals for the reservation of a specific proportion of the country’s land area for a permanent forest estate, biodiversity preservation, water source and infrastructure protection, etc., with the biological realities and economic development priorities of individual provinces, municipalities, barangays and sitios.
  4. Avoid inequitable development within individual watershed --- therefore, policy designed to promote watershed protection should not impose unacceptable social and economic costs on upstream communities for the primary benefit of those downstream (users of irrigation water, hydro-electricity consumers, etc.).
  5. Enable individual rural households and communities to take responsibility for sustainably managing the natural resources at their disposal, which can be achieved through passing of appropriate enabling legislation (rather than coercive enforcement) and the adoption of a participatory appraisal and planning approach to forestry/agricultural development. 

6.    Positively encourage,via appropriate private and indirect incentives, adoption of strategies that conserve the environment for use by future generations.

Where watershed management plans should need for technical watershed management interventions, the next best and ideal option is watershed policy intervention.

Just my little thoughts…

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Antonio, A. C., (2015).  Watershed Management.  Retrieved on the 17th day of March 2015 from

DOST-DENR-DA-UPLB-CFND. (1999). Guidelines for Watershed Management and
 Development in the Philippines. Los Banos, Laguna.

FMB, DENR. (1998).  The Philippine Strategy for Improved Watershed Resources
 Management. Quezon City, Philippines

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