In a nutshell
Ulot Watershed, otherwise known as Can–avid Watershed is one of the 29 watersheds of Samar Island. It is the third largest watershed in the country and has a total area of 87,536 hectares of which 56,680 hectares are located within the Samar Island Natural Park.
Conflicting policy interests in logging, mining and biodiversity conservation, coupled with the fragmented implementation of existing projects and a lack of funds to address these issues, led to an interest in creating a voluntary and multi-stakeholders’ platform. Its purpose is to institutionalize best practices and improve Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) guidelines and policies. Opportunities to share ideas, technologies, information and best practices on SFM with other Model Forests in the region and around the world has also been a strong motivator for local stakeholders to create the Ulot Watershed Model Forest.
The Ulot Watershed Model Forest is composed of open and semi-closed secondary forests (50%), protected lowland dipterocarp forests (20%), bushlands and cultivated areas (20%) and private lands (10%). The terrain of Ulot Watershed is generally rugged; about 80% of its land area has slopes of 18 degrees and higher. The area is a designated centre for plant diversity and endemism (885 flowering plant species of which 406 are endemic). In 1996, the rainforests on Samar Island were declared a Forest Reserve to protect against commercial logging and exploitation, which had contributed to the loss of local timber revenues and increased tensions. Identified additional causes of forest degradation are small-scale timber poaching, rampant slash and burn farming (known as kaingin) and unregulated collection of wildlife species.
Ulot Watershed has vast water resources. Its annual run-off of 815 million cubic meters is more than enough to provide for the area’s domestic water requirement of about 7.5 million cubic meters. Additionally, within the Ulot Watershed and its vicinity there are known mineral deposits, such as copper, pyrite, bauxite, limestone, green tuff and manganese.
Twenty-three forest-edge communities live inside the watershed. Swidden farming (kaingin) for upland rice, corn, abaca, rootcrops (sweet potato, gabi, ube) and vegetables is the main livelihood activity. Farm holdings included a mix of smallholder and medium sized properties in areas outside the buffer management units covering 14% of the watershed area, and kaingin areas scattered in and around the timberlands/forestlands.
The Poverty incidence index in the area reaches 44 %. To supplement their agricultural farming, these communities depend on forest resources – rattan and bamboo poles for shelter construction, a variety of medicinal and culinary plants and fresh water fish and wild animals (wild pig and deer) for their consumption.
A participatory community-based ecotourism development plan was prepared in coordination with the Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Academia, ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation and People’s Organizations (POs).
Member of PAHIMOSAN – Paranas, Hinabangan, Motiong and San Jose de Buan.
- Develop community-based sustainable forest management practices consistent with the Community Resources Management Frameworks and Agreements, and replicable in other parts of the region/country.
- Harmonize the production and protection functions of the forest ecosystem through sustainable forestry practices while providing benefits to communities and stakeholders.
- Take a broad approach among participating countries allied agencies, organizations and stakeholder group in managing forest resources sustainability.
- Protect and conserve the remaining dipterocarp forests of Samar Island, in order to enrich wildlife, soil and water resources.
Key actions in place to reach these goals:
- Building a monitoring and evaluation system.
- Delivering education, communication and outreach activities through: the production and distribution of printed materials; an outreach strategy called Dalaw Turo (visit and teach); broadcast media and; strengthen stakeholders’ capacities for SFM.
- Providing holistic livelihood opportunities to communities for sustainable development.
- Providing poverty alleviation and food security, enhancing forest cover and biodiversity conservation, ensuring water security, improving governance and law enforcement for sustainable forest management, assessing climate change vulnerability and facilitating community adaptation and exploring environmental goods and services (EGS) provided by forests.
- Strictly implementing the Ulot/Can-avid Watershed Management Plan via SINP Management Plan particularly the Samar Island Natural Park.
- Conversion of illegal logging operations into ecotourism initiative involving TORPEDO boat and hiking tours:
- Several ecotourism destinations were identified within the Model Forest. Prioritized site for development was the Ulot Watershed Model Forest ecotourism loop (ecological trail, birding, Philippine eagle sanctuary, falls, caves and springs and rivers) featuring the Ulot River as the major ecotourism destination.
- Part of the river was identified as ideal for eco-adventure activities with Torpedo Boat (motorized, 4m long wooden boat without outrigger formerly used for illegal logging activities) riding as the major ecotourism product with kayaking and tubing as parts of the adventure.
- The Ulot Watershed Model Forest Federation is actively involved in the Ecotourism Loop (UWMF EcoLoop). TORPEDO (Tenani Boat Operators for River Protection and Environmental Development Organization), an organization of boatmen and tour guides was also created and includes 57 members.
- Development of the Ulot Model Forest Watershed Management Plan, which now serves as a pilot project for all watersheds on the island.
- The creation of a federation, registered with the government’s Security and Exchange Commission, which includes all stakeholders involved in the process.
- Delivery of capacity-building workshops (financial management, agroforestry, monitoring and evaluation, criteria and indicators of SFM, team building, vermi-composting, TESDA accredited and product development, value chain analysis (pricing), quality control and market access) to local stakeholders.
- Supported sustainable economic development initiatives (i.e. pili nut plantations and nito-rattan weavers from San Rafael, Hinabangan and Taft).
- TORPEDO (Tenani Boat Operators for River Protection and Environmental Development Organization) Recipient of the National Award for Best Community Based Ecotourism Enterprise by the Philippines Association of Tourism Offices (2017) in Cagayan de Oro.
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