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Save Our Taguibo Watershed
The Taguibo Watershed is an important part of our water system and ecosystem here in Butuan City.
This is where we get clean water supply for the over 300,000 people in Butuan as well as over 100,000 people in the neighboring towns.
Lately, however, much debate and controversies have surrounded this all-important watershed. Concerns are rising that mining and logging (legal or illegal is still subject to a debate) are rampant in that area. If unchecked, such activities will result to the destruction of the watershed and deprive us of clean water resource.
But what is a watershed? “A watershed is the land area from which both surface water and groundwater, sediment and dissolved materials drain to a common watercourse or body of water. For each watershed, there is a drainage system that conveys rainfall to its outlet. A watershed may be the drainage area surrounding a lake that has no surface outlet, or a river basin as large as that of the St. Johns or Suwannee rivers or the Colorado River. Within a large watershed are many smaller watersheds that contribute to overall stream flow.” Source
This hub is my small contribution to this movement of saving the Taguibo Watershed. I do not attempt to provide a long-lasting answer as to what is needed for this watershed to survive. But like any other concerned citizen living in this area, I just want to do my part (albeit small) in this effort to save our precious watershed.
With this, I am publishing a draft primer prepared by a local organization 8 years ago summarizing the salient points about the watershed and what needs to be done to save it. The primer may have been written 8 years ago but what is written on it is still applicable to this day. It may be a little bit long but I do hope you will read it to the end. Thank you.
Taguibo RiverWatershedForest Ecosystem
The watershed area of the TaguiboRiver has an aggregate area of 4,367.44 hectares. The watershed area covers the municipalities of RTR and Cabadbaran, and the City of Butuan , Agusan del Norte. Upon the recommendation of then DENR Sec. Victor Ramos, President Fidel V. Ramos issued Presidential Proclamation No. 1076 dated September 4,1997 for the establishment of the Taguibo River Watershed Forest Reserve.
Elevation in the area ranges from 200 to 800 meters. A major portion of the area has an elevation of about 500 meters. Topography ranges from moderately sloping and moderately undulating (ranging from 8 to 15 %) to steeply sloping to hilly and mountainous (slope ranging from 25% and over). Climate is characterized by the absence of a dry season and a very pronounced wet season occurring from November to January.
The TaguiboRiver has many tributaries. They are Bungadman 1 and 2, Bobon, Iyao, Daladayan, and Dugyaman Creeks. The main channel drains towards the lowlands of Barangay Taguibo, Los Angeles , Cabcabon and Bobon before emptying into the BanzaRiver . The vegetation cover of the area is generally residual forest. Brush land associated with medium-sized tress could be found at the Anticala Reforestation Sub-Project. The CFP at Tagkiling, Dugyaman and a portion of Mahayahay extending to a portion of Pianing Sub-Project is mostly open land. Portions of Iyao, Zigzag, and Bugadyaman 1 are grassland. Second growth forest can still be found at Upper Dugyaman near the drainage area boundary of TaguiboRiver .
The watershed area is endowed with a lot of flora and fauna species such as:
- Mammals – wild pigs, wild cats, dear, bats
- Birds – hanging parakeet, swift pigeon, wild chicken, and song birds of various species
- Insects – squash beetle, grasshopper, bees, butterfly, spider, crickets, fireflies and others
- Aquatic life – frogs, shrimp, eel, fish, shells, crabs
- Flora – orchids, vines and forest tree species such as Lauan, Molave, Narra, Antipolo and other species.
The present land-use of the area consist of the following:
OpenLand - 790 hectares
Second Growth - 2,726 hectares
Old Growth - 120 hectares
BrushLand - 381 hectares
GrassLand – 350 hectares
Some links on Taguibo Watershed
A news on how illegal activities are threatening the supply of water in my city.
At present, TaguiboRiver is mainly used for irrigation by the NIA. The dam for the NIA Irrigation Project is located at Barangay Sumilihon, ButuanCity . The river is also used for washing, bathing, fishing as well as wallowing area for carabaos. It is presently being developed by Butuan City Water District for extraction of water for its water system through an infiltration gallery.
Like any other forest ecosystem, the Taguibo Watershed is a large storage of carbon. It provides people and animals the much needed oxygen as it transforms carbon into biomass through photosynthesis. It’s practically the lungs of the urban areas in the plains. It is able to hold much needed drinking and irrigation water and gradually releases this when it is needed by the agriculture and urban ecosystems below. If maintained properly, it should prevent erosion of the topsoil to provide nutrients for agriculture and prevent sedimentation in the waterways to prevent flooding in the urban areas.
Problems and Issues Needing Immediate Attention
Logging. The Taguibo River Watershed has been experiencing environmental problems for decades as a result of logging activities that started in the 1960’s. Logging activities ceased in 1984 due to the insurgency problem in the area. Nonetheless, some areas particularly in Barangay Anticala were degraded into an open land (790 has), brush land (381 has) and grassland (350 has). The remaining area still contains secondary forest (120 has) and residual growth forest cover (2,726 has). The situation is further aggravated by subsistence farming in the area.
These problems that persist in the watershed area are primarily caused by the deadly combination of human intrusion and dire poverty. Conservation, maintenance, and rehabilitation of the watersheds have become secondary to the survival of the people in the area.
The DENR RO has launched and funded a program directed towards rehabilitating the Watershed at the Community Forestry Project (CFP), Sitio Tagkiling of Barangay Anticala covering an area of 1,000 hectares. Another project funded under ADB Loan II is the Anticala Reforestation Sub-Project covering an area of 1,390 hectares. However, the latter operation has been stopped due to lack of funding support. The discontinuance was aggravated by a misunderstanding among barangay and tribal leaders during the implementation of the project.
Erosion and Sedimentation. Since the areas are open and bare and are located at steep slopes, they are vulnerable to erosion through the impact of rainfall and wind. Soil particles will be detached, transported, and deposited in rivers and flood plains. This, in turn, will result in the loss of soil high plant nutrients. Siltation, on the other hand, will reduce the capacity of the river to carry the volume of the flow during big floods.
Reduction of Water Yield. Due to the loss of forest species, there will be a decrease in infiltration rates, soil moisture levels, and evapo-transpiration. Owing to the rugged and steep topography of the watershed, overland flow increases rapidly and may find its way into the channel in a very short period of time causing an increase in peak flows.
Deteriorating Land Productivity. The continuous loss of soil in hillside forming areas inevitably results in land degradation and loss in productivity.
It is proposed that a Comprehensive Watershed Management Plan be operationalized. The main objective of the plan is to formulate feasible programs and development plans for the protection and rehabilitation of the watershed and provide some measures of erosion control. Such plans and programs could significantly reduce soil loss in the watershed and provide alternatives to the current destructive farming practices, the root cause of watershed conservation problems.
The existing problems and issues in the watershed could not be addressed by one government agency alone. The solutions require the co-operation of various sectors from the government, non-government organizations, and all other stakeholders. The Taguibo River Watershed Management Council should initiate the preparation of development plans and programs that would address the problem. In particular, BCWD, DENR, and NIA should serve as the main advocated for watershed protection and rehabilitation.
The plans and programs should, at the minimum, include the following:
- Strengthening of existing reforestation programs;
- Intensification of forest and fire-protection program especially in the area containing second growth forest through the people-assisted protection system with a community incentive component;
- Continuation and intensification of IEC (Information, Education and Communication;
- Campaign on the adverse effects of improper farming practices to reduce erosion and improve land productivity;
- Development of institutional capability for watershed development and management; and
- Development of institutional capability to extend technical assistance to people residing within the watershed and, if necessary enter into joint ventures with private sector co-operators in watershed development.