As it continues to work to counter the climate change threats faced by the country's watershed areas, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has launched a nationwide campaign to expand watershed conservation and protection efforts involving grassroots communities.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the campaign dubbed Save Our Watershed (SOW) will serve as a platform to encourage partnerships and collaborations from the national down to the grassroots level.

"We hope that the spirit of the 'Save Our Watershed' ripples through to all our DENR regional offices, foreign-assisted projects, and local government units with initiatives on watershed conservation," Cimatu said.

He added that the campaign aims to encourage the creation of local ordinances to further promote the conservation and protection of watersheds.

"There are more than 130 critical watersheds in the country that desperately need immediate protection and rehabilitation to minimize erosion and improve water yield," Cimatu said.

"For us to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change-induced disasters, people’s support to government actions, therefore, is still the key," Cimatu said.

At the national level, the campaign seeks to craft a draft executive order (EO) that will serve as a blueprint for a harmonized and uniformed approach towards protecting, conserving, and sustaining the services provided by the country’s watersheds, such as water supply for irrigation and domestic use, power generation and biodiversity.

Cimatu said the most essential element of watersheds are the trees, pointing out that “a watershed cannot be called as such if there are no trees.”

DENR Assistant Secretary and concurrent Forest Management Bureau Director Marcial C. Amaro, Jr. expressed optimism that they will be able to finish the draft EO by the end of the year or within the fourth quarter for submission to the Office of the President.

Amaro said that all stakeholders, including national and local authorities, local government units, and coastal communities will be consulted for the draft EO in line with the DENR’s policy of adopting the reef-to-ridge approach in watershed conservation. ###