BAUKO, Mountain Province – The municipal government will be embarking into an aggressive environmental preservation and protection program geared towards enhancing the state of the environment within the over 3,000-hectare Mount Data plateau area that will provide added source of livelihood for the growing number of farmers and bring back the greenery of portions in the purely agricultural area.
Mayor Abraham B. Akilit said vacant spaces and ridges of the Mount Data plateau will be planted with red and green tea that will serve as a value added for the agricultural crops produced by the growing number of farmers in the area.
“We want to empower the farmers in the Mount Data plateau to venture in environmentally-friendly activities by planting green or red tea in vacant spaces and ridges to help bring back the greenery of the forest reservation, Mayor Akilit stressed.
The local chief executive recently brought to the attention of Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala the development of farm to market roads in the Mount Data plateau to allow farmers to be able to easily bring their products to the market but with the commitment among the stakeholders for the preservation and protection of the environment through their involvement in agro-forestry projects to contribute not only in food security but also in the promotion of new tourist attractions in the locality.
Aside from being an economic driver, the conversion of portions of the Mount Data plateau for tea plantations will contribute in efforts to initially bring back the greenery of vast tracks of forest lands that were converted into agricultural farms.
While the local government recognizes the importance of farmers earning income to sustain their living condition, the municipal mayor explained they are also obligated to sustain the state of the environment in their production areas by utilizing unused portions for greenbelt purposes in order to strike a balance between environmental preservation and protection and agricultural production.
According to him, the efforts of the local government to preserve and protect the remaining forested areas of the reservation and possibly enhance the same to cover more barren areas through massive reforestation is beneficial to the present and future generations so that they will also enjoy the benefits of having forested areas within their midst and sustain abundant water supply flowing into the four major river systems in the region and the different parts of the lowlands.
Bauko hosts a huge portion of the Mount Data watershed that serves as the headwaters of Agno, Chico, Magat and Abra rivers serving as major sources of water for domestic, power generation, industrial, and irrigation purposes, especially for communities living along the stretch of the said rivers.
He challenged critics of his efforts to sustain the preservation and protection of the Mount Data watershed on what have they done to help in sustaining the identity of Mount Data as a forest reservation and not as a rapidly growing agriculture area when there can be a remedy in order to balance forest preservation efforts and food security in order to prevent the degradation of the remaining forest cover of the mountains that would a significant reduction of water flowing in the river systems. By Dexter A. See