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PIA Press Release
2007/07/19

PGMA declares La Mesa Dam as a protected watershed

Manila (19 July) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared the La Mesa Dam yesterday morning as a watershed reservation as she launched the "Trees for Life" project that involves the planting of at least 20 million seedlings all over the country from yesterday up to the end of the year.

The La Mesa Dam in Novaliches, Quezon City is a vital source of water supply for Metro Manila's 12 million residents. It also serves as a holding facility or reservoir for water coming from the three watersheds upstream - Umiray, Angat and Ipo in Bulacan.

Aside from the La Mesa watershed reservation, the President also declared as a protected area and national park the Mt. Inayaowan range in Lanao del Norte.

In a well-attended pledging and planting ceremony at the 500-square meter grassland open area in the La Mesa watershed, the President thanked the crowd for its "endearing presence" which, she said, "strengthens our hope that Filipinos can do our share to protect the earth."

"Ako ay nasisiyahan at napakaraming mga kabataan and narito ngayon… dahil itong ginagawa natin ang makikinabang ay iyong kabataan. It is the youth who will benefit from any positive action we take to protect the environment," she said.

The President stressed that in this day and age, "we are no longer called upon to make the conventional choice which is economic development or the environment. Kailangang pareho nating piliin at kailangang piliin na natin ngayon."

The President thanked several "adoptor" organizations which pledged to plant the seedlings produced by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in waiting forest areas all over the country.

The planting sites have been divided into four thematic areas: (1) protected areas, critical watersheds and open lands; (2) mangrove and coastal areas; (3) agro-forestry and fruit-tree areas; and (4) urban parks, green campuses, camps, and subdivisions, including roadsides, parking lots, shopping malls, offices, mining rehabilitation areas, and riverbanks.

The adoptors of the DENR's "Trees for Life" project handed their papers of adoption to the President as they were called onstage to be recognized.

Aside from planting the seedlings, the adoptors from various organizations, both government and non-government, also pledged to follow-though with the following post-planting activities: maintain and protect the planted seedlings; sustain partnership with the DENR where continuous coordination with adoptors and partners are maintained, especially in the first three years.

The DENR said the Trees for Life is the "lead forestry initiative under the President's Green Philippines Program (GPP)," a four-point campaign consisting of reforestation, preservation of reefs and waterways, cleansing the land and air of toxic pollutants, and energy independence."

Following the pledging ceremony, the President then planted a seedling of the kalantas tree which is unique to the Philippines. The "toona calantas Merr. & Rolfe Meliaceae" grows along small streams in the molave forests, and also in primary forests of low to medium altitudes, particularly in the Philippine islands of Batanes, Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Negros, Leyte, Cebu, Mindoro and Palawan.

Though widely distributed and well-known throughout the archipelago, the kalantas was previously not planted in abundant quantity.

Kalantas wood is the most preferred wood for high-grade cigar boxes because of its aromatic odor. It is also a favorite for making cloth chests and tennis rackets, small boats and bancas because of its durability and lightness.

The kalantas, which has a wide-spreading crown, grows to a height of 40-50 meters, and a diameter of 120-150 centimeters. It has a straight and cylindrical bole which is about one-half the height of the tree.

Aside from the kalantas, among the other trees to be planted are indigenous and endemic forest trees, ornamental trees and fruit trees.

Trees for Life is one of the Arroyo administration's timely interventions to stem the unabated destruction of the country's forests which stood at 17 million hectares 70 years ago, but is now down to only 7.2 million hectares, according to forestry statistics in 2003. (OPS) [top]

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