POLICY BRIEF SERIES | PBS 2014-3
by Rex Victor O. Cruz
Any system that is robust or healthy can adapt to climate change. For a watershed to be resilient to climate change, it should thus be properly managed. The ecosystems and resources in the watershed must be conserved, the forests restored, and proper land uses implemented.
Hence, attaining sustainability and resilience in a watershed requires effective governance. Decision support systems should be in place, and policies should be effective. Moreover, there should be capable actors and players. Planning, implementation, and monitoring must likewise be improved.
Strategies toward Sustainability and Resilience
Promote science-based management of watersheds and science-informed policies and programs.
Enhance the ability and transform the mindsets of watershed managers and planners. This could be done through the following:
Develop and implement an integrated watershed management plan. This entails unifying the stakeholders such as the LGU, farmers, the academe, researchers, fisherfolk, and private sectors; implementing the landscape approach in watershed management; harmonizing the functions of various agencies; integrating and synchronizing the plans and programs in watershed management; and unifying all local land use and management plans.
Restore degraded forests. Restoration should be science-based (i.e., initiatives should be suitable with the species within the site) and with multiple outcomes (e.g., resilient water, poverty eradication, biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction). This is made possible through the classification of degraded forests for restoration and the production of adequate quality planting materials. The production of adequate quality planting materials is done by: (1) assessing ecophysiological and silvical behaviors of indigenous and exotic species to facilitate the selection of species suitable to specific areas and restoration activities, (2) establishing a tree selection program, (3) and implementing a system for inspection and certification of quality seeds and other planting materials.
Adopt LGU-led upland conservation. This can be done through conservation farming and by strictly enforcing and monitoring compliance to environmental laws.
Implement climate change adaptation. This can be done by assessing watershed vulnerabilities and adaptation to climate change as influenced by other natural and human stressors.
Making watersheds sustainable and resilient to climate change is not an easy task. However, with appropriate decision systems, good policies, effective enforcement and monitoring, capable actors and players, and improved planning and execution, it is possible. To ensure the sustainability of watersheds and their resilience to climate change, it is important that all systems are in place and appropriate interventions are implemented.
1 Dr. Rex Victor O. Cruz is Professor at the College of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of the Philippines Los Baños.