Study finds degraded Laguna ecosystem, more forest cover in Palawan

DEFORESTATION and pollution have degraded natural resources in Laguna de Bay but found some improvement in southern Palawan’s forest cover, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) reported, citing the outcome of a valuation exercise on environmental assets.

Results of the Philippine Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem Services (Phil-WAVES) Study on Experimental Ecosystems conducted at pilot sites in Laguna and Palawan were revealed on Monday, which NEDA said provide a snapshot of the state of the Philippines’ ecosystems.
“As the findings suggest, we need to improve the management of the environment and natural resources in these pilot areas. As these areas are microcosms of the state of the country’s ecosystems, this improvement is critical for growth to be inclusive and sustainable,” said NEDA Deputy-Director General Emmanuel F. Esguerra.

“Moreover, the findings will inform the conduct of environmental impact assessments and cost-benefit analyses, which can serve as a basis for strengthening the management of ecosystems and natural resources in the country,” added Mr. Esguerra.

The Laguna de Bay fishery, water quality, and ecology can be sustained, but rising populations, urbanization, and deforestation are preventing any improvement, according to the study, which was conducted by the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

There was progress, however, in the Southern Palawan assessment, as deforestation has been checked, with land cover rising to 33,000 hectares in 2014 from 28,000 hectares in 2010, according to the DENR and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
The PCSD was created through Republic Act no. 7611, or the Strategic Environment Plan for Palawan Act.
The WAVES program is backed by the World Bank and “aims to account for the natural capital and services provided by ecosystems to know the full value of these resources for better planning.”
Other countries selected in the global partnership aside from the Philippines were Colombia, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Botswana, Rwanda and Indonesia. -- Nicolo Paolo A. Pascual