Matnog imitates CCT scheme to preserve environment

March 24, 2012 1:42 am 

By Danny O. Calleja

MATNOG, Sorsogon, March 23 – The local government here is adopting a conditional cash transfer (CCT) scheme of preserving the municipality’s remaining forest and marine resources that are vital to its tourism and investments.

Under the scheme, residents who derive their income from cutting forest trees and illegal fishing will be given cash subsidies by the municipal government to provide them an alternative source of income.

“This scheme will draw them away from further destroying the town’s remaining forest and spoiling its rich marine resources,” Mayor Emilio Ulbaldo on Friday said.

Ulbado said the municipality had some 5,000 hectares of land classified as forest but only about 1,000 hectares of this remains forested.

“The status is alarming that is why we arrived at this CCT pattern given the fact that the municipality urgently needs its natural resources for its development anchored on tourism and trade investments,” the mayor explained

Under the scheme, he said local upland and coastal dwellers engaged in activities that are disastrous to the ecology will be given regular compensations by the local government on condition that they stop with their illegal sources of livelihood.

“These upland people cut trees for charcoal making, timber poaching and kaingin (slash and burn) farming while those in the coastal villages oftentimes use trawl, cyanide, dynamites and fine-meshed nets in their fishing activities. They are our target in this CCT program”, the mayor said.

While implementing the compensation scheme, Ulbado said those who would be caught violating laws on forest and marine resources conservation will be harshly penalized.

The penalties, apart from those provided under the law, Ubaldo said violators would be required to plant a thousand new trees for every cut full-grown tree while illegal fishers would be banned from the local waters and made to perform community services like coastal cleanup and mangrove planting.

“Preserving what is left of our forest and restoring what have been lost is our ultimate intention because we have investors putting up huge capital to establish ecology-based projects that would help our town become fully developed in terms of trade and commerce,” Ubaldo said, referring to the “Ecological Model City” a Japanese consortium is establishing here.

The US$ 100-million model city will be constructed on a 20-hectare land that would provide a retirement village for Japanese retirees with a hospital and clinic, hotel, resort, fish port, agro-tourism and marine parks and an international airport, according to Ubaldo.

“Undoubtedly, this sleepy town is blessed with ecological wonders just waiting to be discovered while being continually protected and nurtured. We hope that preserving and protecting its environment though our CCT scheme of preventing more man-made destruction will help its boost its ailing economy,” he said.

CCT is a banner program of the national government with P34 billion budget to promoting health and social upliftment of the poor by subsidizing the indigent families on condition that they avail of health and basic education services being provided by the government. (PNA) RMA/ jfm/DOC/cbd

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