Remarks by Jeremy Gustafson, Office Director, Office of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, MOU Signing on Forest Restoration, Protection, and Maintenance in Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

[As Prepared]

Acknowledgements of VIPs (to be provided).

Good morning to all of you. On behalf of the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), I congratulate everyone who made this partnership a reality.

The U.S. Government has been a long-standing partner of DENR in conserving biodiversity and supporting management of forests in the Philippines. USAID’s largest forestry and watershed program, B+WISER, has been closely working with the DENR Region IV-A since 2013 to improve the management of the 26,125-hectare Upper Marikina Watershed Forest Reserve (UMRBPL) and the 27,613-hectare Kaliwa Watershed Forest Reserve (KWFR) in the provinces of Rizal and Quezon. I am pleased to report that significant progress has been made towards our common goal to better manage forest resources and other environmental services from the watersheds.

The agreement we are signing today will enable us to expand our collaboration with upland communities living in the watershed areas. Under this MOU, about one thousand beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and other underprivileged individuals will be involved in the forest restoration, maintenance and protection activities.

This partnership will advance environmental initiatives while providing income-generating opportunities to the upland communities. The different forms of arrangements that will evolve under this partnership will help operationalize the concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES).

The communities, as “sellers” of the ecosystem services such as water supply for Metro Manila and climate regulation, will have direct financial incentives for the conservation work. If institutionalized, the partnership will provide a model that will encourage the mainstreaming of PES in the poverty-reduction and other related initiatives of the Philippine Government. More importantly, this collaboration will lead us a step closer towards achieving our shared goal of broad-based, inclusive and resilient growth for Filipinos.

In closing, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to everyone whose dedication and efforts have contributed to this partnership. We look forward to the implementation of activities that will result from this partnership.

Thank you and good morning to you all.

Issuing Country