THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has committed to compensating local indigenous peoples (IPs) who are maintaining Chico River Basin’s forests.

Compensation will be provided through a revenue-sharing scheme slated for implementation in the watershed, and agroforestry management in Cordillera as part of the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project.

“The revenue will make sure a PO [people’s organization] member gets his share from whatever activity he contributes, such as growing seedlings. The government also wants to earn from its management of the natural resource,” Marilyn Malecdan, regional project coordinator of the Chico River project said.

The irrigation project, originally slated for completion by 2021 or early 2022, has been stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic. The water from the project is supposed to supply water to farmlands in Tuao and Piat in Cagayan, and 1,170 hectares in Pinukpuk, Kalinga.

The DENR watershed management project, as part of the Chico River Basin project, includes 5,056-hectares of revenue-earning agroforestry sites, approved in 2012 and implemented as an effort to preserve the Upper Chico River Basin that sits in between Mt. Province, Kalinga, Apayao, and Ifugao.

The project, under the Integrated Resources Environmental Management Program (INREMP), is set to be completed this year, and as such the DENR is now mapping a sustainability plan with a revenue-sharing scheme.

INREMP has also provided rehabilitation for rural roads in the region, 3,701 hectares of reforestation area, 5,056 hectares of agroforestry, and 6,533 hectares of assisted natural regeneration area.

INREMP is co-financed by the Asian Development Bank, allocating a restructured loan amount of $57 million for INREMP. INREMP is receiving a grant of $2.5 million from the Global Environment Facility.