GREEN BARRIER Environment officials inspect over the weekend the bamboos planted along the banks of Cagayan River. —DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES PHOTO

By Villamor Visaya Jr., Philippine News Agency Stringer and Philippine Daily Inquirer Correspondent

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines —Riverside communities in Cagayan province have been asked to guard a 500-hectare plantation made up of bamboo and homegrown tree species that will help protect Cagayan River and avoid future floods.

The Regional Build Back Better Task Force (RBBBTF) on Sunday said it had inspected the 585-ha interconnecting plantations growing along the Cagayan riverbanks in Tuguegarao and the towns of Lasam, Gattaran, Enrile, Solana, Alcala, Amulung, Baggao, Peñablanca, Abulug, Pamplona, Sanchez Mira, Claveria and Sta. Praxedes.

Gwendolyn Bambalan, RBBBTF chair and Cagayan Valley director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said the plantation represented the government’s green infrastructure that was designed to stabilize the riverbanks.

“It complements the removal of sandbars and the construction of soil and water conservation measures or the gray infrastructure,” she added in a statement.

Bambalan also urged village officials of Minanga Sur in Lasam town to ensure the survival of the 123-ha bamboo plantation along Zinundungan River, said Corazon Corpuz, DENR Cagayan Valley information officer.

The riverside plantations were put up last year by the DENR in partnership with 14 local governments.

Priority areas

Bambalan led on-site inspections of the soil and water conservation project along Paranan River in Baggao, where she proposed a memorandum of agreement with Mayor Joan Dunuan to relinquish facility maintenance to Barangay Dalin. She encouraged the barangay officials to plant more bamboo and indigenous trees to protect the riverbank against further erosion.

The area is one of the priority areas for rehabilitation due to the confluence there of Paranan River and Agaman River, which triggered severe river erosion.

Aside from Baggao, the towns of San Agustin and San Guillermo in Isabela province, and Cabarroguis in Quirino province were also recipients of small water impounding system projects for intensified watershed management under the “Build Back Better” initiatives. The projects were expected to be completed in March.

The government also inspected sandbar dredging sites at Bangag village in Lal-lo and Dummun village in Gattaran.#