The province of Nueva Vizcaya is considered the watershed haven for the entire Cagayan Valley Region. It is home to the 429 hectare Borobbob mini-watershed partly supporting the regional hydro power system, provides irrigation to nearly 400 hectares of lowland farms in adjoining municipalities and supplies potable water to at least 2,000 households. However, the local DENR and the LGU had to contend with the limitations imposed by a 1969 Presidential Proclamation that placed the watershed under a “critical watershed status” Around 135 families occupied the watershed area. The occupants’ insecure tenurial status discouraged them to cooperate in conservation efforts of the government and even destroyed government investments in irrigation and reforestation. Not paralyzed by legislative ambiguity, the LGU saw the opportunity to advocate a co-management arrangement through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).
Instead of treating forest occupants as squatters, they were considered as stakeholders and provided with tenurial security for 25 years. The LGU was able to harmonize opposing interests in the watershed and has prepared the development plan focused on land management and community-based protection and management of watershed resources. Barangays actively participated in the community resource mapping to clarify and resolve conflicting interests. Forest fires stopped significantly, timber poaching was reduced by 100%, vegetative cover was enhanced, supply of irrigation and potable water was guaranteed and increased the forest cover in the whole province. With the program, critical variables including tenurial and food security are addressed which elevated the efforts of the local community to a participatory, more focused and sustainable approach in watershed management.
This program is recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Programs in the 1999 Galing Pook Awards.