Angat watershed rehab tops targets despite pandemic

Published March 2, 2021, 6:30 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The on-going state-led massive watershed rehabilitation in the Metropolis’ seven critical watersheds, including Angat, has surpassed targets despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

A project report released over the weekend showed that over four million seedlings were already planted in some of the region’s critical watersheds and 9,509 hectares reforested through the Metropolitan Waterworks Sewerage System’s (MWSS) Annual Million Trees Challenge (AMTC).  


According to the report, a total of 4.02 million seedlings were planted from 2017 to 2020 in Ipo-Angat (2.26 million), La Mesa (777,505), Laguna de Bay (222,096), Kaliwa-Umiray (60,473), Upper Marikina watershed (552,165), and Manila Bay (143,904).

For three consecutive years since its launch in February 2017, AMTC targets were surpassed.

AMTC is a five-year watershed rehabilitation program spearheaded by the MWSS–Corporate Office, in partnership with various organizations that include national government agencies, local government units, civil society groups, and the private sector.

It aims to rehabilitate the seven critical watersheds, namely La Mesa, Ipo, Angat, Umiray, Laguna Lake, Upper Marikina, and Kaliwa, which are supplying water to Metro Manila and parts of Rizal, Cavite, and Bulacan.

The program was formally launched by then MWSS Administrator Reynaldo V. Velasco (Ret), who now serves as MWSS Chairman of the Board.

In 2017, the number of seedlings planted totaled 1.33 million. This was followed by 1.02 million in 2018 and 1.02 million in 2019.

In 2020, only 633,442 trees were planted due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Meanwhile, a total of 9,509.375 hectares from 2017 to 2020 were already reforested through the AMTC.
At the Ipo-Angat watershed, reforested area was 5,035.19 hectares;  La Mesa, 1,723.39; Laguna de Bay, 347.83; Kaliwa–Umiray, 150.84; Upper Marikina, 1,928.99; and Manila Bay, 323.135.

MWSS and its partners agreed on maintaining the health of the beneficiary watersheds by planting and nurturing at least one million trees annually.  

“MWSS saw the need to reforest these watersheds that have been denuded because of illegal activities such as timber poaching, kaingin, and land conversion. Wanton destruction of forest areas has adversely affected water quality in the watersheds,” MWSS said in a statement over the weekend.

Since its launch, the program has attracted 20 partner organizations, including ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc.–Bantay Kalikasan; Bambuhay Social Enterprise; Boy Scouts of the Philippines; Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) National Capital Region; DENR Region 3; DENR Region 4A; Gen. Nakar, Quezon LGU; JCI Senate Philippines; Laguna Lake Development Authority; and Luzon Clean Water Development Corporation-San Miguel Corporation.

Manila Water Company, Inc.; Maynilad Water Services, Inc.; Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig; MWSS Regulatory Office; National Power Corporation; Phil. Waterworks Association (PWWA); Rotary Club District 3780; UP Beta Sigma; UP Mountaineers; and World Wide Fund for Nature–Philippines are also part of the project.

The AMTC supports the government’s National Greening Program and is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The National Greening Program is a government priority program that provided for the planting of some 1.5 billion trees in about 1.5 billion hectares for a period of six years from 2011 to 2016.

Its coverage was expanded in 2015 and its implementation extended from 2016 to 2028. It also harmonized the greening efforts of the private sector and civil society.