La Mesa Watershed experience cited in biodiversity summit
By Joanna Paula L. Virador
Davao City (27 November) -- "La Mesa Watershed provides water to 12 million Manila residents," David Pardo, Administrator of La Mesa Ecopark told the participants of the 1st Davao Biodiversity Summit held at Marco Polo Davao on Thursday. La Mesa Watershed is a property primarily owned by the government agency - Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MSWSS).
About 2,700 hectares of land and reservoir area comprises the La Mesa Watershed. 2,000 of which are land area - surrounding forest and the remaining 700 hectares as water reservoir.
But the watershed became critical as it was heavily threatened and informal settlers came in "They destroyed the forest to make wages for fast crops," Pardo stated. Prevalence of forest fires and illegal logging is rampant in the vicinity. As a consequence, La Mesa Watershed was ruined.
ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. formed Bantay Kalikasan and in a joint venture with the MWSS, initiated a program in 1999, dubbed as Save La Mesa Watershed Project. A nursery (for trees and other ornamental plants) was established in the vicinity and re-introduced 80 endemic species. Moreover, no forest fire was reported for the last 3 years. It has been a place for scientific researches.
The Save La Mesa Watershed Project was able to increase environmental awareness, able to rehabilitate in 10 years 1461 hectares, able to control forest fires and soil erosion.
To continue the project, ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. Bantay Kalikasan, in partnership with the MWSS and Quezon City government created a 33 hectares nature park named as La Mesa Ecopark which is situated outside the natural boundaries of the watershed and 40 meters below the reservoir. La Mesa Ecopark is a venue in providing healthy outdoor recreation and a true forest experience as well.
La Mesa Ecopark aspires to be the center for biodiversity conservation. It has been a well-liked destination for family outings and educational school field trips.
"No single government, no single person can do this alone. We should work together." Pardo advocated in the call for preserving biodiversity. (PIAXI/Intern) [top]