RDC okays Bicol River Basin master plan

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LEGAZPI CITY — The Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) has formally approved the Integrated Bicol River Basin (BRB) Management and Development Master Plan in a meeting recently held by stakeholders and institutions pushing for its protection.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Bicol director and BRB Management Council chair Gilbert Gonzales said the BRB Master Plan includes the programs and strategies to be implemented under three components.

The first component aims to prepare the ecosystem and community in facing the risk of climate change including protection of forests and rehabilitation of mangrove plantations.

The second component involves encouragement of investors in production areas through construction of new irrigation systems, sanitary landfill and other needed structures.

The last component stresses the need to strengthen management of the BRB which includes establishment of a Sub-basin Management Council, conduct of information education campaign, capability enhancement training and many others.

Gonzales added that the implementation of the Integrated BRP master plan has a total budget allocation of P31 million. “Government agencies including PAGASA, DTI, DPWH, NIA, DA, BFAR, DOT, DILG and DENR will be helping each other to allocate fund for the 15-year term implementation of the plan,” he said.

The special order for the establishment of the BRB Coordination Office was issued in 2012 to render technical and administrative support to the BRB Management Council under the RDC and its technical working group. It is also under the EO 816-2009 and EO 510-2006 directing the creation of River Basin Control Office to be managed by the DENR.

The Bicol River Basin is the eighth largest basin in the country with a total of 317,103 hectares covering the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

Among the challenges it is currently facing are flooding which affects agriculture and settlements, destruction of forest covers, dwindling fish catch due to illegal fishing, conversion of mangrove areas, pollution and many others. It is also inside the typhoon belt area thus affected by strong typhoons every year. -- PIA

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