Rapid economic growth, continuing industrialization and unabated influx of informal settlers have resulted in a variety of social and environmental impacts in the area, which brings significant changes in the Laguna de Bay and its watershed. Deforestation and soil erosion are known to be the main contributors to siltation in the Laguna Lake. Apparently, heavy siltation has reduced the lake’s present depth to an average of about 2.5 meters from 12 meters decades ago. Study revealed that an estimated of some four (4) million tons of suspended sediments enter the lake annually, leading to an average net accretion of 0.50 cm per year (SDLBE-Nauta, 2002). The heavy siltation of the lake has detrimental effects to ecology and economy. In a rapid valuation of the Lake’s benefits to society if returned to its prestine state, Php 3.6 billion in annual benefits is lost due to the deterioration of the Lake’s quality (Arcenas, 2012)
Realizing the urgency to reduce the impact of global warming, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) has spearheaded various watershed rehabilitation in Laguna de Bay Region through reforestation. As early as the 1990’s, a permanent agro-forestry nursery was established within its premises in Calauan, Laguna, which provides seedling requirements for its own tree planting activities as well as for other stakeholders like LGUs, industries, river councils and other organizations which were conducting similar activities.
Taking the lead, LLDA has reforested a number of areas within its jurisdiction including the road stretching along the boundary of Baras and Tanay in the province of Rizal. The Pangil Bamboo Farm in Laguna was also conceived giving its locals livelihood.
THE NATIONAL GREENING PROGRAM
Executive Order No. 26 is President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino’s response to worldwide concern on global warming. Issued on February 24, 2011, it aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares within 2011 to 2016 to areas covering forestlands, mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domains, civil and military reservations, urban areas under greening plan of LGUs, inactive and abandoned mine sites, and other suitable lands within public domain.
The NGP also seeks to improve quality of various waterways including irrigation for farmlands, reduce potential for flooding, soak up carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and lay the foundation for an expanded wood products economy.
All government agencies, GOCCs and institutions, including local government units, will provide full support to the program.
COMMITMENT OF LLDA TO THE NATIONAL GREENING PROGRAM
Even before the issuance of E. O. 26, LLDA has been doing watershed rehabilitation within the Laguna de Bay Region.
In 2011, additional nursery was established on LLDA property in Lumban, Laguna to augment the growing demand for forestry.
From 2011-2014, the authority produced a total of 503,683 seedlings wherein 345,191 seedlings were planted and/or dispersed to different stakeholders within the Laguna de Bay region. In 2013, seedlings production in both nurseries reached to a total of 111,248 seedlings wherein a total of 51,211 seedlings were planted and/or dispersed to various stakeholders within the Laguna de Bay region. By 2014, a total of 200,511 seedlings were produced and with a total of 229,934 seedlings planted and/or dispersed to LGUs, industries and various civic organizations.
Aside from the production of planting stocks and field planting, the LLDA supports the NGP by means of providing technical and extension assistance to stakeholders such as species selections, site identifications and land preparations. In addition, the LLDA recognizes the significance of the involvement of the community in the success of the project. Therefore, the agency is mobilizing the sectors in the private and public areas to become part of the program.
In order to sustain the impact and significance of NGP, LLDA is committed to create and implement supportive policies and utilize integrated methods to resource management and empower local people to ensure equitable sharing and responsibilities in caring for our environment.