MNWD towards Sustainable Ecotourism Development
THE Metropolitan Naga Water District (MNWD) showcased its best practices and experiences in protecting and conserving the watersheds it manages within the Mt. Isarog Natural Park (MINP). Representatives from DENR Central Office, DENR Regional Office V, DENR Southern Luzon Cluster, National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), Bicol University (BU), Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA), Department of Tourism (DOT) MIMAROPA, and Local Government Units of the Cities of Naga, Legazpi, and Parañaque were at the Protected Area Office (PAO), Panicuason, Naga City for a learning visit last August 11, 2017. The event was formally opened by Mr. Domingo L. Ramos, the Punong Barangay of Panicuason. Naga City Mayor John G. Bongat acknowledged and welcomed the participants of the learning tour and expressed his gratitude for the visit to the MINP. He emphasized the harmonious relationship between the MNWD and LGU and commended the water district for having a dynamic and visual oriented Chairman. The Malabsay Falls ecotourism development project was also discussed and he presented the newly repaired structures within the compound including the foot trail, guard house, water system, and the solar powered Visitor Information Center (VIC) building. Mayor Bongat also presented the plans of DENR, DOT, and the LGU of maximizing the utilization of resources to cater to the needs of local and national tourists, through responsible ecotourism programs while protecting and conserving the MINP. The briefing regarding MINP was presented by Mr. Bonifacio P. Azur, Planning Officer II, DENR-PENRO. Among the highlights were the proclamation of MINP as a protected area by virtue of Proclamation No. 214 series of 2002, the DENR plans, the different reforestation measures including rehabilitation and management activities undertaken with the help of other agencies in order to ensure sustainable development, environmental protection, and preserve the economic and ecological values of the protected area. The MNWD Chairman of the Board Jorge T. Palma shared the best practices and stories behind the success of the Integrated Watershed Management Program (IWMP) for the two watersheds being managed by the MNWD, the Anayan –Rumangrap and Kanilisan-Nabuntulan Watersheds. He said “that the sustained collaboration with the stakeholders and inclusion of the immediate community by the watershed proved to be a valuable catalyst towards the successful conservation, rehabilitation, and protection of the MNWD-managed watersheds inside MINP.” The MNWD’s plans and programs for sustainability and replication of its watershed management projects were presented to the visiting group. In behalf of the City ENRO, Mr. Alec Francis Santos of the Naga City Arts, Culture, and Tourism Office (ACTO) presented the LGU’s plans and programs for the protection and conservation of the MINP through eco-tourism development which focused on the benefits of eco-tourism to the community by creating more livelihoods, commercial expansion by increasing revenues brought by increasing number of tourists visiting the area, and environmental protection through responsible ecotourism, and maximizing public awareness about all these programs.