Grassroots paralegal group calls for enforcement of buffer zone

February 24th, 2012 by

DAVAO CITY – A paralegal group composed of farmers and residents from the third district reiterated their call for the City Government to implement proper buffer zones in the upland areas even as the Watershed Multipartite Monitoring Team (WMMT) finished last Tuesday  its plans  to monitor violations of the provisions of the watershed code.

The 122-strong Kinaiyahan Amumahon Panalipdan Panggaon ug  Irespeto (KAPPI) said that plantations in the uplands have not been complying with the buffer zone requirements and called for the WMMT to investigate and penalize violators.

“We welcome the formation of the WMMT and we hope that it will do its function of monitoring violations.’, according to KAPPI Advocacy Campaign Officer Rey Sapid .

Under the Watershed Code, the WMMTs  are  legally appointed bodies which will monitor the implementation of the Watershed Code.  Its membership includes representatives from the  government , the academe, the civil society  and the local barangay unit. There are three WMMTs , each in charge of monitoring one cluster zone in the watershed area.

Last Tuesday, the WMMT  had just finished its annual work plan for the implementation of the Code.  Among its tasks are to enforce the establishment of  proper buffer zones,  identify and secure landslide-prone communities, conduct ground monitoring and recommend filing of cases for violators.

The Watershed Code of Davao mandates that   40-meter buffer zones must be established around recharge zones, riverbanks, rivers, springs, wells, and other critical areas.  Meanwhile, areas with residential houses, schools and other community infrastructure must have 30-meter buffer zones from surrounding plantations.

KAPPI noted that most plantations have not been complying with the provisions.  “Buffer zones should be planted with trees to catch the drift from pesticides but most of the plantations are only content to establish shrubs along the edges of their plantations and call it a proper buffer zone.” , said Sapid.

“The WMMT should investigate these cases promptly and penalize violators. They should not wait for residents to complain  before acting on the problem.”, he said.

KAPPI is prepared to assist the WMMT in monitoring the grassroots implementation of the Code. “ Our members are present in all the 14 barangays in the 3rd district.  We know firsthand how plantations have disregarded the environment in their drive to expand their areas.”

Even before the Watershed Code was drafted, environmentalists have long lobbied for the proper establishment of buffer zones.  Buffer zones are important areas because they safeguard the sources of water and rural communities from the toxic effects of chemicals used by monocrop plantations.  During heavy rains, they minimize flooding as they absorb the surface run-off.  ( #)