Ipo Watershed, Bulacan – Rainforest rehabilitation efforts in Ipo Watershed are on the way to replenishing approximately 400 million liters of water each year, according to a study conducted last December.
Replenishing water means helping nature retain more water for future use, as opposed to letting it go to waste as run-off during floods.
The study, commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines looked at the area of Sapang Munti, a sub-watershed that is home to indigenous communities and covered mostly in damaged and degraded forest, with areas previously cleared for farming and other destructive practices. The WWF-Philippines has been working to reforest 150 hectares of Sapang Munti, together with official partner Coca-Cola Philippines and in coordination with the Department of Natural Resources and the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.
A related study, also commissioned by WWF-Philippines, showed that the reforestation efforts have led to a significant decrease in erosion in the area. From an expected 1,300 square meters of erosion each year, the slopes of Sapang Munti now see a little over 700 square meters of dislodged soil.
A volunteer pats down earth around a freshly-planted sapling. In Ipo Watershed, reforestation efforts led by WWF-Philippines have led to over one million liters of water being saved each day. WWF-Philippines, together with Coca-Cola Philippines, has supported the rehabilitation of Ipo Watershed since 2017. Photograph © WWF-Philippines
Saving Watersheds, Saving Water
Erosion leads to the destruction of watersheds and the siltation of rivers, which contributes to flooding. As slopes crumble, their ability to capture water decreases, while reducing the amount of land available for trees to take hold. Eroded soil also pollutes water sources, reducing the quality of raw water the watershed can provide.
“This was honestly quite the pleasant surprise. We know that reforestation work is important, but to learn that we were able to save this much water through our watershed effort is amazing. We are on the way to replenishing over one million liters per day – for a total of around 400 million liters a year – of extra water to support the millions living in Metro Manila,” said WWF-Philippines Project Manager Paolo Pagaduan.
Pagaduan, through WWF-Philippines’ Forests for Water program, has overseen the rehabilitation of Ipo Watershed since 2017. With the help of its partners and the hands of willing volunteers, the Forests for Water program is transforming once-degraded forest into productive rainforest, to shore up the watershed and secure water for the people of Metro Manila.
As the main source of water for 96% of the National Capital Region and adjacent provinces, Ipo Watershed supports several million Filipinos in a climate of increasing water insecurity. Decades of illegal deforestation activities, however, have left many of its slopes clear of trees.
This latest study reaffirms the importance of protecting the rainforests that make up the watershed.
“This data is only coming off of the 150 hectares we’re working with, as opposed to the more than 7,000 hectares that make up the entire watershed. If we’re able to save that much water from this effort alone, imagine what we’d be able to achieve if we rehabilitate the entire watershed?” posited Pagaduan.
Much work still needs to be done in order to reforest the entirety of Ipo Watershed. What has been achieved so far, though, has gone a long way towards securing water for millions of Filipinos. Support WWF-Philippines, and help make sure all Filipinos have access to the water they need.