DENR calls to public to protect riparian zones and foreshore areas

By: Roi Lomotan

DUMAGUETE CITY (PIA) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Negros Oriental advises the public to plant crops along riparian areas instead of building structures to prevent soil erosion and help preserve these areas.

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Charlie Fabre said aside from bamboo, people can also plant other crops that can hold the soil on riparian areas. This not only helps in mitigating bad effects of climate change but it can also provide livelihood to the community.

Riparian zones are strips of land located near water sources like rivers, streams and creeks.

The DENR here continues to make a call to the public to preserve and manage riparian zones and foreshore areas. This is in line with the celebration of Environment Month this June with the theme “Raise your voice not the sea level.”

Speaking in a Kapihan Forum here yesterday on the topic “Protection and management of riparian zones and foreshore areas,” PENRO Fabre said one of the pressing issues on the environment nowadays is the continuous building of structures along the mentioned places without permission from the Local Government Units (LGUs).

Fabre appeals to LGUs to exercise its political will in implementing laws and guidelines on protecting riparian zone and foreshore areas.

Fabre said loss of lives and damages to properties during floods can be evaded if the local government can prevent the construction of illegal structures on these areas.

According to DENR-7 Land Management Sector Division Chief Bonifacio Rivera, at least 3 meters easement from the shoreline is required in building structures in urban areas based from Art. 51 of Presidential Decree 1067.

Meanwhile, Sec. 16 of the Presidential Decree number 705 states that “Twenty-meter strips of land along the edge of the normal high waterline of rivers and streams with channels of at least five (5) meters wide” are not classified as alienable and disposable lands.

With this, LGUs should seek riparian rights to persons asking building permits to build structures along rivers, streams and foreshore areas. LGUs have a basis to deny any requests if they found out the requesting party has no right over the riparian or foreshore area.

Moreover, local government can also demolish illegal structures in this area just like what happened in Boracay where the LGU demolished structures that violated the easement requirement.

However, the enforcement of the law doesn’t need to end in violence.

“This is a political issue, the local government or the mayor should think of an approach in that will bring no environmental, economic and social damage (to the other party),” Fabre said in the local dialect.

Fabre adds local officials should plan solutions that would minimize the negative effects of calamities especially in communities or structures along riversides or foreshore areas. He advises local planning officers to put the zoning areas in away to places that can put the lives of people at risk.

Through this, the provincial DENR hopes the local government will help in protecting riparian zones and foreshore areas in Negros Oriental. (mbcn/ral/PIA7-NegOr)

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