Environmental Management Plan: Lake Dapao National Park

Lake Dapao National Park




Lake Dapao is one of the deepest lakes in the Philippines (BIMP-EAGA, 1997). Like so many lakes in the country, it is important for agricultural and domestic use, fishery and aquaculture, hydro-electric generation, transportation, recreation and wildlife and genetic conservation (Unda and Esteban, 1991; PAWB, 1993; Labao, 2006).

The lake is identified as good fishing ground and scenic spot in Mindanao (NEPC, 1977). It has good quality and both rich in fishery and wildlife resources (Labao, 2006; BIMP-EAGA, 1997). By virtue of RA 4190, the lake was identified as protected area otherwise known as Lake Dapao National Park in 1965.

It was included by Mapalo (1988) in the list of lakes in Lanao del sur that has international significance as roosting and feeding sites for migratory birds). Waterfowls such wild ducks were reported to exist around Lake Dapao (Labao, 2006; BIMP-EAGA, 1997). It is beautiful and enchanted lake situated about 350 meters above sea level, above a foggy range of rolling hills.  Facing the verdant hill of Mt. Baya at the eastern side, it is surrounded by plateaus with moderate steep slopes.

The lake is known in the region for its rich fish resources. About seven (7) barangays in the lakeshore communities are dependent on the lake for food and livelihood. The lake is reported to be the habitat of rare fish species found in Lake Lanao and Lake Inayawan. These species are said to have become rare due to the introduction of new fish species. Around the lake are habitats of other rare and threatened wildlife. This gives the lake and its surrounding area a high ecological value, prompting a proposal to declare the Lake Dapao National Park as a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS).

The continuing siltation and pollution of rivers, loss of local species, the increasing population along the lakeshore, and the constant flooding are signs of greater problems that may occur in the future. Therefore, there should be much-needed impetus to the sustainable management of the lake. This environmental management plan is to rovide the proposed council Lake Dapao Development Authority, with the framework and a common environmental management agenda/plan of action for the next five years.


The formulation of this environmental management plan was undertaken under the laboratory project in FRM 144 – Forest Environmental Management under Professor Gideon D. Binobo of the Environmental Studies Department, College of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Mindanao State University.

 Essentially, this proposed project is a capability-building program for the Technical Working Group (TWG) composed of staff and officials from the LGUs and other line agencies. The planning process that will be adopted thus had a training component and will be organized in such a way that hands-on activities interspersed with formal training. Throughout the training period, the TWG will be provided guidance and technical assistance in the systematic conduct of environmental planning.

In summary, the sequence of planning for training activities will be as follows:

A. Formal Training

  • Environmental concepts
  • Environmental policies
  • Watershed delineation
  • Preliminary situational analysis
  • Data integration and analysis
  • Visioning
  • Preliminary project ideas
  • Project Development
  • Target Setting and Programming
  • Preliminary Costing
  • EIA
  • Organizational Arrangements Completion of thematic maps
  • IEC Planning Firming up of targets and budgets

B. Hands-on Activity

  • Delineation of planning area
  • Thematic mapping
  • Data collection for ecological profile by municipality
  • Presentation of analysis to SBs
  • Validation of project ideas
  • Completion of thematic maps
  • IEC Planning Firming up of targets and budgets
  • Consultations with local officials
  • Review of consolidated program
  • Review of Draft Plan
  • Presentation to LCEs/LMDA Board

The watershed framework will be adopted as the basis for delineating the planning area. Watershed refers to the area that is drained by a common river system. In this particular study area, it was considered appropriate to use the Lake Dapao watershed as the planning area. That is, the delineated watershed covers all rivers that flow into the lake, the whole length of the Yaran and Dapao Rivers and all its tributaries. The watershed area thus extends from Porug, Danugan, Gas, Dapao, Yaran, Notong, Matungan and Bantayan. The ridges of mountains serve as the natural boundaries of the watershed. These boundaries do not always coincide with the political boundaries thus most municipalities are not totally within the Lake Dapao watershed. In fact, only six (6) out of twenty-two (22) barangays of Pualas.

The watershed approach highlights the interrelationships between the uplands and the lake and the coastal area. It clearly shows that whatever happens in the uplands will certainly affect the lake and whatever happens to the lake will ultimately affect the coastal area at Malabang. Conversely, it tells us that developments or problems occurring outside the watershed area will have no effect on the lake or on the Matling river system. The watershed approach allowed the problem analysis to focus on the five ecozones that make up the watershed: the uplands, the lowlands (including settlements), the lake, rivers and the coastal area at the mouth of Matling River. These same ecozones were then used to categorize the proposed interventions. The resulting plan components are: upland management, lake management, river management (which includes part of the coastal zone) and waste management (for the lowlands).

A planning period of five years will be adopted, starting from the Year 2013 and ending in Year 2018. To prepare for full implementation, the plan provides a list of preparatory activities that will have to be undertaken in 2013.

The main constraint or limitation encountered in preparing this plan is the unavailability of important data and maps on the watershed area. Important data gaps were on forest cover, location of tenured forestlands, location of critical watersheds (for irrigation and water supply), historical data on volume of fish catch from the lake, water quality analysis, evaluation of quarrying activities, and evaluation of garbage disposal systems. The project had a limited time frame and resources to be able to conduct extensive field investigation. Moreover, there was limited/irregular involvement of the key agencies, which could have provided vital information and technical assistance to the TWG. The TWG members therefore had to rely mainly on existing studies on the lake, secondary data that were available at the municipal level and local knowledge of keyinformants.

Although it is recognized that economic and environmental concerns are inextricably linked, the plan has been limited to environmental activities. It will be assumed that the LGUs and the relevant line agencies will provide the necessary economic programs (e.g., livelihood projects for fishing and upland communities, infrastructure, tourism development) that would go hand in hand with the environmental plan.


This environmental plan has five chapters. Chapter 1 provides the introduction while Chapter 2 contains the situational analysis of the Lake Dapao. The watershed area is characterized in terms of its bio-physical, socio-economic and institutional features. The analysis is capped by the problem analysis, which synthesizes various findings in the profile and organizes the issues into ecozones. Chapter 3 describes the vision and strategic directions that the TWG has crafted for the Lake Dapao watershed. This is followed by a discussion on the proposed projects in Chapter 4. This chapter describes the process of project selection, the scope of each project component and sub-component and their budgetary requirements for the period 2013-2018.

The implementation arrangements are presented in Chapter 5.The organizational aspect the LDDA organization and functions. An important part of Chapter 5 is the action plan which lists the critical and immediate activities that need to be undertaken in 2013 by the council.

EMP Approach

The overall approach of this EMP is holistic and complementary with existing plans in the area and is not meant to supplant any existing initiatives that have the same objectives.  It also espouses participatory planning and decision making and is meant to cultivate critical cooperation amongst stakeholders.  Hence, a continuing discussion and collaboration among different levels of governance is a critical ingredient in the success of this EMP.  The Maranao People, as represented by their LGUs and various representations need to know their roles and the practical entry points by which they can actively contribute in the pursuit of the objectives of this EMP.  It is of paramount importance for the ARMM leadership to continually update and communicate this EMP through broad-based consultations with Lanao del Sur’s constituencies as well as actively market it to drum up technical support and funding commitments from appropriate assistance agencies, domestic as well as international.

The People

The Meranaos have been known to be the ethnic group living along the coastal areas of the Lake since time immemorial. Population growths have pressured them to spread out to the valleys and plateaus. Their socio-cultural idiosyncrasies and political governance, which were influenced by the mixture of indigenous customs and traditions and Islam, have made them distinct from the rest of the tribal groups not only in the Philippines but in the rest of the World.

The Bangsa Meranao is, by nature, clannish. Family ties and kinship are very strong. They are noted for their maratabat  (pride or honor) as exemplified by their willingness to lose their lives if only to redeem their honor once besmirched; they are a valiant people and ever ready to defend their homeland and culture from foreign domination as manifested by their adamant refusal to accept the Spanish conquistadores and their American colonial successors. They are essentially friendly and hospitable that even the poorest of them is willing to offer his last food to an alien or stranger visiting their home.

Farming and fishing were the main occupation of the Meranao people. It is sad  to note , however,  that other livelihood and occupational opportunities for them have been limited.  Many depend on government assistance which are likewise limited. 

An abrupt induction of a Meranao into a more materially- advanced  society may cause him painful adjustments.  If social change is desired, the member of the Meranao society must endeavor to discover better techniques of metamorphosis. 

Another notable feature of the  Meranao people that has some implications to the  peace and order situation  in the Province,  is their strong family ties.  Families share problems and  glories, and that is positive.  There is a negative flip side, however..  As a result of strong family ties, family feuds or rido is also a reality that presents a major serious threat to peace and order in Lanao del Sur.  A simple fistfight causes a chain reaction of retaliations that sometimes leads to violent and bloody conflicts between families  and clans that extend over long periods of time.



2.1.1 Bio-Physical Features

Location and Area Distribution

Lake Dapao is one of the six national parks in Lanao del Sur, declared by Republic Act 4190 on May 5, 1965. It covers an area of approximately 1,500 ha. and a watershed of 12,193 hectares (Labao, 2006). It encompasses a body of water lying between 124⁰00″ and 124⁰05″ east longitude and, between 7⁰45″ and 7⁰50″ north latitude with an elevation of 350 meters above sea level (masl).


The island of Mindanao is located in the southern section of the Philippine archipelago. It is found at the junction between the converging Eurasian Plate on the west-southwest and the Philippine Sea Plate on the northeast. It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Trench, the Sulu Trench to the northwest and the Cotabato Trench to the southwest. Major onshore structures include the southern segment of the Philippine Fault and the northwest trending Cotabato Fault.

Lanao del Sur is located in the central section of Mindanao known as the Lanao-Bukidnon  ighlands. This physiographic unit is essentially underlain by Pliocene to Pleistocene volcanic rocks (NQV) composed mostly of basalt flows and pyroclastics. Regional structures include east-west trending and east-north-east and west-south-west gravity faults. These faults formed horst and graben structures that are responsible for the subsidence of Lake Lanao. The same faults controlled the formation of several plateau levels within the Lanao-Bukidnon Highlands. This plateau stretches for about 170 kilometers from east to west and 130 kilometers from north to south. The underlying lithology covering the watershed is composed of Andesite-Basalt series, Quaternary volcanic pyroclastics, Quaternary volcanics, Recent alluvium, and Undifferentiated volcanics. The defined geologic structures are mostly inferred and observed fault.

The soils in the Lake dapao watershed vary in character, composition and description. Generally, it is clayey to volcanic sandy loam type. The humus layer is more or less a foot deep and the deeper clay strata beneath is acidic with a high moisture retention. It is estimated that every square meter of the watershed has a yield of 1.97 cubic meters of water annually (DENR, 1990).


The highest points within the watershed are:

Mt. Gadongan in Danugan, Pualas

Mt. Ungai I Dapao, Pualas

Matungan Hill, Bantayan, Pualas

Drainage System

It is exactly located at Pualas, Lanao del Sur and is bounded east by mountain range to Municipality of Pagayawan, southeast by plateaus to Municipality of Calanogas and Municipality of Picong on southwest.  The uplands that surround it form its watershed from which steams flow and empty to it. While it is fed by its watershed, Lake Dapao has only one outlet, the Porug River, which flows on southeast direction from the town of Pualas. It runs through Pagayawan and Calanogas as tributary to Matling River which generated into mini-hydroelectric power by Matling Hydroelectric Plant.

The drainage system of the Lake Dapao watershed is composed of two major parts. The upper part consists of the lake and all the rivers and creeks that flow into it. The lower part covers the Matling River system, which drains the lake. This portion extends from the mouth of the lake down to its sea outlet.

Land Classification and Uses

An estimated 75% of the total area of the watershed is classified as agricultural lands while the rest are forest areas.

Large areas of agricultural areas, primarily the hillslopes are being used for agriculture. These are planted mainly with coconuts, bananas, rootcrops, corn and other upland crops. Considered as protection areas in forestlands are the old growth forests, areas with very steep slopes and very high elevation.  Also considered as protection areas are 20 – 40 meters easement on both sides of riverbanks and a 40-meter easement from the lake.

Flora and Fauna

There is no formal inventory conducted in the lake that provide a comprehensive account of the flora and fauna found in the Lake Dapao watershed.

Species of birds recorded in the park include the giant scop owl, mendane imperial pigeon, hornbills, parrots, woodpeckers and wild ducks. Mammals recorded are Philippine monkeys, wild pigs and Philippine deer. Among the mammals, amphibians and reptiles that are now rarely observed in the area are the common monkeys (Macaca fascicularis), wild pigs (Sus philipinensis), bats, crocodiles, cobra, Philippine python, and others. The habitats of these animals have been significantly altered by man thus the disappearance of these species from the area.

The lake is home to various species of fishes such as bongcaong, tilapia, mudfish and other fresh water fishes as well as shrimps. The decrease in their population is attributed to the introduction to the lake of tilapia and carp in the past decades.

Climate, Rainfall and Temperature

Climatic types of Lake Dapao sometimes experienced cyclonic monsoon and convective rainfall with most numbers of rainy days are during the month of August and September and in the months of June and July – the heaviest rainfall. However, dry period occurs in the month of February, March and April. The recorded mean annual rainfall is 114mm (Labao, 2006). Generally, climate of the area falls under 4th type of Corona Climate System of the Philippines, characterized by an even distributed rainfall throughout the year.

2.1.2 Socio-Eco-Cultural Features

 Lake Dapao Watershed Inhabitants

The native inhabitants of most of the province of Lanao del Sur and consequently of the Lake Dapao are Meranaos. The Meranaos are a Moro ethno-linguistic group living along the shorelines of Lake Lanao thus they are often called the “People of the Lake.” The Lake has become significant to the history, culture, religion and livelihood of every Meranao. This is already embedded in their psyche; a symbol of their identity and ethnicity. Population growths, however, have compelled them to expand to the valleys and plateaus resulting to the rapid conversion of forest cover into agricultural lands. Their peculiar socio-cultural practices and political governance, which were influenced by the fusion of homegrown customs and traditions (pre-Islamic) and a strong devotion to Islam, have made them distinct from the rest of the Moro ethno-linguistic groups and aboriginal tribes in the country.

Meranaos are generally hospitable, generous and friendly. They welcome visitors wholeheartedly and offer them the best that they can provide — food, accommodation, amenities, and the like. They even hold Pagana Meranao or a form of festivity conducted when special guests arrive. Sumptuous food, gifts and entertainment are tendered during this social occasion.

Meranaos by nature are clannish as depicted by strong kinship and family ties. A notable feature is their “maratabat” which can be literally translated as pride or honor. With this keen sense of pride, a Meranao is willing to sacrifice his life to redeem his honor once tainted. History tells us that they have successfully defended themselves from Spanish and American colonizers who wanted to intrude their jurisdiction.

Another facet of Meranao life is the existence of “rido” or family feuds. This is the negative implication brought about by strong family ties whereby a series of usually bloody retaliations may result from a simple misunderstanding. Some cases took years before they are resolved. A mediator or middleman is often tapped to negotiate the resolution of a “rido” which may involve blood money, “kandori” or celebration, or the marriage of a couple belonging to each of the conflicting parties whichever is agreed upon by the elders. This also has become a hindrance to development efforts in the province especially when those involved in the case are politicians or influential members of the community. Instead of performing their obligations for the people, they go into hiding with the fear that they could be the next target of the vengeance.

As far as the Protected Area concept is concerned, majority of the inhabitants of the Watershed Reserve are not aware that their place of residence is part of a Watershed Reserve and potentially a Protected Area. Despite the attendance of key personalities and representatives during the organization of the Protected Area Management Board in Lanao del Sur, the typical member of the community is not knowledgeable of such declaration on reserves. Moreover, the term “Protected Area” sounds new to the layman. From their point of view, they “own” the place especially Lake Lapao because since the time of their ancestors, this is where they are born and raised. The concept ownership in as far as the inhabitants are concerned has some conflicting perspectives with the law that need to be corrected.

Cultural Practices of the Meranaos

Meranao cultural practices are generally a combination of Islamic and pre-Islamic traditions.

The Sultanate System

The Sultanate system was introduced to the Meranaos as early as the 15th century. Decentralized, the area was divided into the four confederations or principalities of Lanao (Pat a Pangampong a Ranao) composed of the States of Butig (Unayan), Masiu, Bayabao and Baloi, and on the second level, the 16 Royal houses (Panoroganan) and the 28 legislative bodies (Mbabaya/Pyakambaya ko Taritib).

The socio-political system was based on the Taritib and Ijma as well as laws, customary laws, and adapted practices of the Meranaos.

Until now the sultanate form of government is still recognized in Lanao del Sur. In fact, the sultanate leadership is more respected than the more modern form of political leadership. And when it comes to conflicts, these are brought for resolution to the sultanate because people believe in the judgment and wisdom of these traditional leaders. Per experience, the contemporary form of justice system is not very effective for the Meranaos.

Traditional Meranao Weddings

Weddings in the Meranao context are grand and ideally, geared towards strengthening, preservation and proliferation of the race and family linkages. Intermarriages from among family members (except between mother and son, and between siblings) are practiced. Distant family members, relatives, and cousins even to the first degree are allowed to marry each other.

Traditionally, Meranao weddings are intended to be grand. They are arranged by the elder members of the committing families. When an agreement is reached, a “dialaga” then takes place where the family of the groom formally asks for the hand of the woman he wants to marry. Here, the wedding preparations are planned and discussed.


“Tibao” in the layman’s understanding, is simply visiting the family of someone who died. In the Muslim practice, the deceased should be buried 24 hours after its death. The tibao then takes place after the burial lasting up to 7 days to show honor to the dead.

Usually done in groups, the “tibao” is considered one of the most important social obligations among Meranaos.


Although not a very positive form of a cultural practice, “rido” or family feuds are considered to be a part and parcel of a Meranao’s way of life. When one of the members gets into trouble, it is the responsibility of the entire clan to face the problem. Some cases take years to be resolved while some are not resolved at all.

Commonly dubbed in Filipino as “ubusan ng lahi” or a series of vengeful killings between conflicting parties, many Meranaos have fled to other places and start their lives there in order to avoid “rido.” Many families have lost their loved ones, young and old, because of unstoppable “rido” incidences.

“Rido”, in addition to the Islamic resurgence and MNLF and MILF conflicts, has placed many areas under strict security conditions as indicated by the absence of settlers from other places and so, the relative non-exploitation of forest lands by human settlements except for illegal logging.

The Islamic principle that Muslims are the “Al-Khalifa” or stewards/caretakers of the environment exemplifies that these cultural practices of the Meranaos should be fashioned to gear towards the conservation of the Lake dapao. This covers the Sultanate system of government, although a political body, which has that environmental component that seeks to protect our natural resources since its framework is based on Islamic laws. The regular and special cultural events conducted involving Lake Lanao and its environs demonstrate its importance not only as a body of freshwater but its symbolism to the Meranao people. The perspective of Muslim Meranaos as “Al-Khalifa” thus counters the negative effects that “rido” brings, destroying not only one’s fellowmen but the environment as well.

 2.1.3 Economic Sectors

The major economic activities in the six barangays within the watershed are agriculture and fishing from the lake, rivers or sea. The other economic sectors are quarrying and business. With the plans to develop the area as a tourism destination, tourism could become an important sector in the future.


Agriculture is the predominant source of income in all the branggays. The primary agricultural product in the watershed area is rice, coconut, coffee, spring onion and banana. Other important products in the area are rootcrops, vegetables, corn, and abaca.


There are four barangays within the watershed, which are dependent on fishing. Lake Dapao and Matling River are the important fishing areas although there are also significant fishing activities in Yaran and dapao rivers. Fishing is done for both cash and for subsistence. Fresh fish (tilapia, carp, katolong, and tumba) are sold in the lakeshore or to fish dealers who then bring the fish to other villages. The smaller fish and shrimps are usually dried.

The following fishing gears are commonly used in lake and river fishing:

  • hook and line
  • small mesh fish traps (for tilapia)
  • gill nets
  • Tangkal
  • Small shrimp cage
  • spears
  • pokt

Fish pens and fish cages are commonly found in many baragays within lakeshore. Use of fine mesh nets, electricity and poisonous substances are the common illegal fishing methods that are being used.

It has been indicated in a study that fishing gears used in the area have not changed much through the years. Many of the fishermen still cannot afford to buy bigger nets. Meanwhile, the fish catch volume is said to have decreased through time. Some local fish species have diminished significantly and replaced by new, introduced species such as tilapia and carp.


Lake Dapao being ecologically unique and rich in aquatic resources, is considered as one of the eco-tourism attractions of the region. The Lake is very scenic and the lake waters are clean so they can be used for swimming, sports fishing and other water sports. Aside from the lake, the area has other natural attractions that can be explored for development.

Forestry and Forest Resource Utilization

There are therefore no industrial forestry activities within the watershed. Only small scale tree felling for domestic use in construction of the local communities. Rattan gathering is the major forest utilization activity in Dapao. Rattan is used mainly in furniture making and basketry.

2.1.4 Infrastructure and Other Facilities

Road System

It is exactly located at Pualas, Lanao del Sur and is bounded east by mountain range to Municipality of Pagayawan, southeast by plateaus to Municipality of Calanogas and Municipality of Picong on southwest.  It is accessible through the General Narciso Ramos Highway at Porug, Pualas, Lanao del Sur from Marawi to Malabang-Cotabato road networks. The configuration of the lake provides easy entry and exit for transportation. It is surrounded by five (5) local government units of Porug, Linuk, Danogan, Yaran, and Dapao. Almost half of local population usually boarded on pumpboats as transportation means for their whereabouts around Lake Dapao.

Communication Facilities

Telephone facilities are not available even other private telephone and telegraph companies is not also available in some municipalities. Radio communication facilities and cellular phones are available in all LGUs thus inter-LGU communications is fast.


Electricity is available in many baranggays but not in the upland areas. Of the six (6) barangays within the watershed, there are two barangays (in Dapao and Yaran) with no access to electricity this time, but before there is.

2.1.5 Local Institutions

Coordinating Councils

The municipality of Pualas has Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Council with MENR Officer although the mandates of some of the bodies have some relation to environmental management (e.g., disaster management, control of illegal fishing activities, tourism and tribal affairs). The presence of this coordinating council suggests the recognition of multi-sectional contributions to a particular concern. Multi-sectional inputs are very vital to environmental management.

Non-Government Organizations

There is no NGO based in the area but there are few NGOs that are operating in the area. However, peace and order and, poverty alleviation are there most concern whereas involvement in environmental programs is poor. But still, this is significant, as NGOs can be potential partners of the LGU in the implementation of environmental management initiatives.

People’s Organizations

There is no local people’s organization in the area but the traditional and the religious leaders in the Sultanate system can be tapped to support environmental programs.

Research Institution

There is no research institution in the Lake Dapao area also.


The 1987 Philippine Constitution

Under Article XII of the Constitution (National Economy And Patrimony), Section 2 states that all lands of the public domain and all natural resources are owned by the State.   Thus, its exploration, development and utilization shall be under the full control and supervision of the State.   Except for direct undertaking of exploration, development and utilization activities, the State may enter into  co-production,  joint venture, and production sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum  of whose capital is owned by such citizens.  

PD 705, 1975.   The Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines

Under Section 3  of this PD, critical watershed is defined as a drainage area of a river system supporting existing and proposed hydro-electric power and irrigation works needing immediate rehabilitation as it is being subjected to a fast denudation causing accelerated erosion and destructive floods. It is closed from logging until it is fully rehabilitated.   By operation of the law, Lake Dapao Watershed is within the jurisdiction of the National Government through the then Bureau of Forest Development which had jurisdiction over all forestlands in the country.   The Bureau is directly under the control and supervision of the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (Section 7).

RA No.  6734, 1989.  Creating the Autonomous Region In Muslim Mindanao

Under Article XIII of RA 6734  (Economy And Patrimony),  Section 2 states that except for strategic minerals such as uranium, coal, petroleum and other fossil fuels, mineral oils, all sources of potential energy, as well as national reserves and aquatic parks, forest and watershed reservations as maybe delimited by national law, the control and supervision over the exploitation, utilization and development of the natural resources of the Autonomous Region is hereby delegated to the Regional Government in accordance with the Constitution and national laws.  This provision exempts LLW, which is a critical watershed, from the delegated jurisdiction to the Autonomous Region.

RA No. 9054, 2001   –  Amending  Republic Act No. 6734

Section 8, Article III of this Act (Guiding Principles and Policies) states that subject to the Provision of the Constitution and this Organic Act, the Regional Government shall have the authority, power, and right to explore, develop and utilize the natural resources, including surface and subsurface rights, in-land and coastal waters, and renewable and non-renewable resources in the Autonomous Region.  Muslims and the other indigenous cultural communities shall, however, have priority rights to explore, develop, and utilize the said resources in the areas designated as parts of their respective ancestral domains.  

Also explicitly provided in this Act is the mandatory earmarking of funds for forest development.  Under Section 5 Article X (Ancestral Domain, Ancestral Lands and Agrarian Reform),  paragraph 4 states that ten Percent (10 %) of the shares of the internal revenue taxes of the Regional Government and of the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays of the autonomous region and all allocations for the development of the autonomous region by the National Government shall be devoted to reforestation projects  and other environmental activities to enhance the protection and development of the environment in the autonomous region.

With respect to management of natural resources,  Section 5 of Article XII  (Economy And Patrimony)  provides that   the control and supervision over the exploration, utilization, development, and protection of the mines and minerals and other natural resources within the autonomous region are hereby vested in the Regional Government in accordance with the Constitution and the pertinent provisions of this Organic Act except for the strategic minerals such as uranium, petroleum and other fossil fuels, mineral oils, and all sources of potential energy, as well as  national reserves and aquatic parks, forest and watershed reservations already delimited by authority of the central government or national government.

RA No. 7586 (1992) – Establishment And Management Of National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS)

Section 5 of this law  provides that all areas or islands in the Philippines proclaimed, designated or set aside, pursuant to a law, presidential decree, presidential proclamation or executive order as national park, game refuge, bird and wildlife sanctuary, wilderness area, strict nature reserve, watershed, mangrove reserve,  fish sanctuary, natural and historical landmark, protected and managed landscape/seascape as well as identified virgin forests before the effectivity of this Act are hereby designated as initial components of the system.  This law effectively puts Lake Dapao national Prak as initial component of the NIPAS and hence, placed under the control and administration of the DENR (National).  It also provides for the creation of a Protected Area and Wildlife Division (PAWD) in each Region under the supervision of RTD.   Section  11 of this Act also provides for the creation of a PAMB (Protected Area Management Board) for each of the established protected area to be chaired by the RED in the Region.

RA No. 7160 – Local Government Code of 1991.

The Local Government Code of 1991 intends to give genuine and meaningful local autonomy to the territorial and political subdivisions of the State or the Local Government Units to enable them to attain their fullest development as self- reliant communities.   With respect to matters concerning environment,   Section 26 provides that it shall be the duty of every national agency or government-owned and controlled corporation authorizing or involved in the planning and implementation of any project that may impact on the environment and natural resources to consult with the concerned LGUs and explain the goals and objectives of the program/s and the environmental measures designed to prevent or minimize their adverse impacts.

RA No. 8550 –  Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

Section  51 of this act provides for the requirement of a license before individuals of organizations can operate fishpens, fish cages, fish traps and other structures for the culture   of fish and other fishery products.  It also provides that these shall operate only within established zones duly designated by LGUs in consultation with the FARMCs, and only within 10 % of suitable area of all lakes and rivers shall be allotted for aquaculture purposes.

RA 9003  –  Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000

Another national law that has significant bearing in the Lake Dapao National Park  Environmental Management Plan  is this Act.   Under Section 2 (Declaration of Policies), the Act states that it is the policy of the State to adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program.  At the forefront is the role of LGUs who shall be responsible for the implementation and enforcement of this Act, also pursuant to RA 7160.  The Act provides that segregation and collection of solid waste shall be at source or at the barangay level and the creation of Provincial, City and Municipal Solid Waste Management (SWM) Board and for each LGU to formulate individual 10 year SWM Plan.  The Act also provides emphasis on all possible re-use, recycling and composting of waste materials. The LGUs are also required to put up IEC programs on SWM to enjoin the full cooperation of all LGU constituencies.   The Act effectively prohibits littering, throwing and dumping of wastes in public places; open burning; and construction or operation of landfills or any waste disposal facility on any aquifer, water reservoir, or watershed area, among others.

Relevant Regional Laws and Arrangements

Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act N0.  161 (March 3, 2004) –  Sustainable Forest Management in the ARMM

Chapter I of this Act (Guiding Principles and Policies) requires the watershed as a basic planning unit in forestland management and development by local governments and communities in ensuring sustained and continuous supply of water for domestic, irrigation, power, industrial and commercial use.  Chapter III (Governance, Administration and Management of Forest Lands)  Section 12 also states that  forestlands and/or portions thereof which administration and management have been assigned by law to other government agencies for specific purposes shall be respected; provided, that such agencies shall submit their respective management plans for review and concurrence by the Department (ARMM) for purposes of monitoring and  visitorial powers.

Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 25 – Local Government Code of the ARMM

Under Title Six (Regional Planning and Development Board and Local Development Councils) Section 102-a,  the Regional autonomous government shall have a comprehensive multi-sectoral development plan to be initiated by the Regional Planning and Development Board and approved by the Regional Legislative Assembly.  For this purpose, the Board shall identify, evaluate, and recommend the annual work programs and development plans of the Autonomous Region in accordance with regional needs.

2.2 Issues and Problems Affecting the Lake Dapao Watershed

The Lake Dapao watershed can be divided into four ecological zones: uplands, lowlands, rivers and the lake. The various uses of and activities in each of these zones as well as their respective stressors are identified in the best of my knowledge. It must be recognized however that while the stressors are zone-specific, their impacts can encompass various ecozones. For example, the degradation of the uplands will affect not only the lowlands or the lake but eventually the coastal areas as well.

Lake Dapao is the most critical resource in the planning area therefore special attention is given to the stressors that can adversely affect the quality of its waters, and the richness and diversity of its fishery resources. These are:

Forest denudation. This is due mainly to illegal logging in natural forests and the continuing practice of Kaingin in mountain slopes with the increasing settlement of the uplands. The lack of adequate tree and other vegetative cover plus the erodibility of local soils have led to increased runoff and erosion. Siltation is now very evident in some rivers; landslide scars and gullies are already evident in the steeper and mountainous slopes.

Quarrying. There have been no large-scale quarry operations in the watershed but the ongoing small-scale activities in Pagilidan Road is just as problematic, in terms of siltation and possible water pollution oflakeshore.

Increasing population in lakeshore settlements. There are five (5) barangays located around Lake Mainit. These barangays are along the shores of the lake and are dependent mainly on fishing and drinking water. The populations in these settlements have been increasing. Not only has this increased the total fishing effort and fish consumption rates. The garbage and waste disposal problems in these settlements (from households, to human wastes) could eventually affect the lake waters.

The increase in lowland populations also place increased demand for land for housing and agriculture purposes. Lack of land pushes migration to the uplands. While it reduces pressure on the lake, it stresses further the forest resource base.

Use of agro-chemical. Surrounding the lake are rainfed agricultural areas where chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides are being used. It is expected that the run-off from these farms, which have a significant chemical content, eventually ends up in groundwater aquifers and rivers that flow into the lake.

Illegal fishing methods. Among the fishing methods that are harmful to aquatic life are the use of fine mesh nets, electricity, chemicals and trapping migratory fishes. This harms small fishes. Unless such is controlled, it could lead to the depletion of the fish population, particularly the local species. Unless mitigating measures are adopted at the early stage of their development, the proposed tourism, hydropower and road construction projects could pose additional threats to the lake ecosystem.

The coastal area of Malabang serves as the ultimate impact area of all the stressors identified above. There are other problems however that directly affect tributaries of Matling River and these put further stresses on the river and coastal area.

These additional stressors are similar in nature to the set previously identified but could differ in terms of the intensity of their impact. These additional stressors are:

Siltation in Lake. The sediment load of the Yaran has constricted the river outlet in the mouth of the Lake thus some parts of the lake are shallow. This does not only increase sedimentation downstream. The constriction in the river also worsens the flooding upstream and even hampers the migration of fish back to the lake after hatching in the mouth of the river.

Deforestation. Illegal logging activities are also reported in the upmost of the watershed where significant second growth forests still exist. Fortunately, these threats have not, thus far, produced serious problems in the lake. The water in the lake remains clear and clean and it still teems with fish. On the overall, the lake ecosystem is still healthy although signs of impending problems are already evident in the uplands, in the lowlands, some rivers and the coastal area.



The people of the Lake Dapao share this vision for the Lake Dapao watershed area:

  • A diverse ecosystem
  • With crystal clear and safe lake waters (LakeDapao) surrounded by green and verdant mountains
  • Endowed with abundant natural resources
  • An ecotourism destination
  • Sustainably managed by an empowered citizenry
  • For economic development and environmental protection


In relation to this vision, this environmental plan has three goals:

  • To conserve the aquatic resources of the area, particularly that of Lake Dapao. This considers the high dependency of the population on fishing and drinking water in the lake, rivers and coastal area for income and food. This should also enhance the ecological and recreational value of the lake.
  • To properly manage forestlands and improve the forest cover of the watershed. This is to conserve soil and water resources and thus minimize siltation in rivers that flow into the lake and into the sea. It is also to provide the desired forest products and services, and promote biodiversity. Proper management of the uplands should support settlements and agricultural and industrial developments in the lowlands by providing water, food and raw materials. This should also enhance the eco-tourism potential of the area.
  • To promote greater involvement of government, the private sector and local communities and other stakeholders in the sustainable management of the lake and other critical resources.


To achieve these goals, the following general strategies will be adopted:

  • Implementation of resource-enhancing activities to improve the productivity of Lake Dapao, the rivers, agricultural areas and forestlands. This will involve the rehabilitation of degraded areas, promotion of appropriate fishing and fish production technologies, delineation of protection areas/buffer zones around the lake.
  • Strengthening the enforcement of environmental laws and regulations pertaining to waste disposal, pollution, resource utilization such as logging, gathering of other forest products, hunting of wildlife, quarrying, and fishing, and other critical concerns.
  • Establishing systems for coordinating the policy setting, planning, enforcement and monitoring activities of LGUs within the watershed area. This is to ensure consistency between policies/programs and the overall goals and vision for the Lake Dapao area.
  • Establishing a common database for the Lake Dapao watershed for purposes of planning and environmental impact monitoring.
  • Educating the general public on environmental concerns and establishing systems and structures for the participation of local stakeholders in planning and implementing environmental programs.
  • Capacitating municipal and barangay local governments in resource/ environmental planning and management. This will include the integration of environmental concerns in the development planning activities of LGUs.
  • Conduct of necessary studies to improve understanding of the lake ecosystem and other concerns in the area, and to enrich the environmental database.

In adopting these strategies, it is assumed that the provincial and municipal LGUs will put into place programs and projects that would address rapid population growth, and the need for other livelihood opportunities, for support infrastructure and for other services. These interventions are critical to the success of this plan. The rehabilitation, protection and regulation activities proposed in the plan will have to be complemented with parallel efforts to reduce the pressures on the lake and forest resources.

This plan supports the development of the Lake Dapao area as an ecotourism zone. The resource enhancement and protection strategies are expected to further develop the area’s eco-tourism potentials. Strategies for the physical development of the necessary facilities and the promotion of the area as a tourism destination.

4.0 PRIORITY PROJECTS: 2013-2018


After analyzing the various issues presented in Chapter 3, here are the selected top five issues that should be given priority attention. These are:

  • The degradation of the uplands
  • The resulting erosion, siltation, and flooding problems
  • Illegal fishing in the lake
  • Pollution/siltation from quarrying
  • Pollution from improper waste disposal

With these, the focus of the plan would then be on:

  • The forestlands, particularly the degraded areas
  • The entire Lake Dapao
  • The rivers that are critical in terms of use
  • The rivers that are critical in terms of pollution/siltation problems
  • The settlements, particularly the lakeshore barangays, where waste management is necessary.

The various interventions to address the abovementioned issues will be then mapped out. The proposed projects were organized into four major components: uplands/forest management, lake management, river management, and waste management. The specific proposals for each component were a mix of actions composed of resource enhancement and development (e.g., rehabilitation, reforestation), regulation/ policy enforcement, institutional development (e.g. training, organization of communities), research, engineering (e.g., dredging of river) and IEC.

Several iterations/reviews will be done to define and refine the mix of actions and scope of the proposed projects. These will be intended to make them more “doable” by the LGUs and “fundable” by cooperating line agencies and external donors as the proposed concil intends to secure external funding assistance to implement some of the proposals. In the end, it was considered imperative that the plan a) build on and consolidate what already exists or are planned by LGUs and line agencies, and b) provide for strong community participation. It will thus be noted that for some of the identified projects, the requirement is merely to redirect, link-up or coordinate existing programs of the LGUs and line agencies so that they align with the vision for the Lake Dapao watershed. There is a serious attempt to match the targets with their respective capabilities to ensure that some implementation activities can be initiated while external funding support is being sourced out.


4.2.1 Uplands Management


There are needs of lowland settlements that are dependent on properly managed upland areas — water for domestic use and irrigation, food, medicine and raw materials such as wood and rattan. The degradation of the uplands and the depletion of forest resources not only deprive the lowlands of these forest products and services. They bring about a host of environmental problems such as siltation in rivers and flashfloods, the impacts of which can be felt not only at the lake but even extends down to the coastal zone.

Forestlands compose one third of the total Lake Dapao watershed area. It cannot be ascertained though how much of these are still with good forest cover as it has been reported that the remaining patches of old growth forests can now only be found in uppermost portions. These facts provide sufficient justification for seriously pursuing an uplands management program.


1. To define the appropriate land uses for the forestlands in the watershed considering both environmental concerns and the requirements of the growing population. Essentially, this aims to delineate the areas for protection and those which can be used for production purposes, and ensure that these are under some form of management.

2. To rehabilitate open and degraded areas and protect existing forests from all forms of destruction (i.e., forest fires, pests and diseases, illegal logging, encroachment)

3. To promote greater awareness among local population on the importance of the forest ecosystem and the ill-effects of forest destruction.

4. To encourage the participation of various sectors in protection and rehabilitation works.


1. Forest Land Use and Watershed Management Planning

A forest land use plan (FLUP) will be formulated for the whole Dapao watershed to provide the overall framework for the management of the forest lands. The forest land use plan will designate the areas which should be protected and those which can be devoted for production activities (e.g., plantations, agroforestry, agriculture, settlements). The forest land use plan will also indicate how specific areas in the forest lands are to be managed: by the LGUs, by community organizations, by corporate entities, by DENR or by other entities. The appropriate forestry programs (e.g., Community Based Forest Management Program or CBFMP, Industrial Forest Management Program or IFMP, the Socialized Forest Management Program or SIFMP, etc) and support investments that need to be made can thus be identified.

The DENR will issued the guidelines for forest land use planning. It espouses the adoption of watershed as the planning unit. This coincides with the planning framework of the Lake Dapao environmental plan. The DENR, as part of the proposed council, should be able to provide the needed technical assistance to implement this activity.

The ecological profile already provides some of the data requirements of an FLUP. The exercise will entail additional mapping (current land uses/land cover, tenured areas, upland settlements, and critical micro-watersheds of irrigation and domestic water supply, eco-tourism areas) and the field validation of whatever issues will be identified.

Inputs from the Department of agriculture and Department of Tourism will be critical to this exercise, to establish the specific areas that will need protection for agricultural and eco-tourism purposes. Barangay-level workshops and community mapping activities may have to be undertaken in selected locations to be able to generate local community inputs to the plan.

This FLUP should lead to the preparation of detailed management plans for priority/critical subwatersheds. Figure 2 shows the delineation of the Lake Dapao watershed into subwatersheds .The FLUP may prioritize these subwatersheds in terms of use/importance (i.e., source of irrigation, domestic water, habitat of rare species, eco-tourism potential, old growth forests) or condition (i.e., degraded/denuded, eroded).

The forestland use plan will cover the whole Lake Dapao watershed.  The specific sub watersheds that will be subjected to detailed management planning will be decided on during forest land use planning.

2. Reforestation/Plantation Establishment

Reforestation/plantation establishment will be undertaken in open and degraded areas to improve land cover and therefore prevent erosion. Unfortunately, the actual extent and the specific location of areas requiring rehabilitation could not be ascertained during the ecological profiling due to outdated maps. The Technical Working Group will need to conduct a rapid field assessment survey, possibly during the forest land use planning exercise to determine the actual rehabilitation requirements of the whole watershed.

In the absence of such information, there has to be a preliminary target for planting within the five-year plan period.  There is need however to rationalize the distribution of rehabilitation activities within the watershed so that the more critical areas are given priority. Reforestation will be implemented by the LGUs and DENR under various programs: community-based forestry, industrial forestry, communal forests, adopts a mountain, Clean and Green, and others. LGUs and DENR should encourage the participation of various sectors (e.g., youth, schools, business groups, civic organizations, government agencies, barangay LGUs, NGOs and people’s organizations) in reforestation or tree planting.  The LGUs and DENR will have to formulate innovative reforestation programs that will encourage broad community participation.

3. Agro-forestry

Agro-forestry will be promoted in hilly and sloping areas, particularly where settlements exist. Upland dwellers will be encouraged to plant a combination of agricultural cash crops and forest species, using appropriate soil and water conservation (SWC) measures. Examples of SWCs are hedgerows, rockwalls, contour canals and bench terracing. If sustained, agro-forestry systems will minimize soil erosion, maintain soil productivity and eventually reduce pressure on forest resources.

4. Tree Park

Each LGU will establish a tree park, which will function mainly as a recreation and learning area for its population. The tree park will range from 1 hectare to 15 hectares. A common concept among the LGUs is to put in the park a collection of tree/plant species and birds and other fauna to display their diversity. While it is classified here as an upland development project, some LGUs are actually considering the establishment of the park in the lowlands, to increase access to these by the population. The LGU will primarily be responsible for the development and maintenance of this tree park. The DOT can provide ideas as to the concept/theme of the park.

5. Legislation and Enforcement

The protection of forests is a multi-sectoral concern and is not the sole responsibility of the DENR. Forest protection also does not refer alone to illegal logging but rather covers protection of forests from fires, pests and diseases and all forms of illegal extraction (e.g., wildlife hunting).

The set of actions that will be undertaken under this sub-component are designed to improve the enforcement of existing forest protection laws and the formulation of local legislation. Specific activities are:

  • the creation of multi-sectoral protection teams (e.g., Siyap Kalasan) in municipalities where illegal logging is considered as a major problem.  Where forest protection teams already exist, their strengthening will be pursued. The DENR should be able to provide advice to the proposed council on this matter.
  • involvement of local communities in forest protection. DENR experience shows that the communities can be effective partners of the DENR and LGU in forest protection.
  • the proclamation, through local resolutions, of the protection areas and the critical sub-watershed within the watershed. This will be an outcome of the FLUP and detailed watershed management planning. The proclamation will define those who will be responsible for the protection of these areas.
  • the issuance of other local legislation to support the implementation of the forest land use plan or strengthen the implementation of national laws and regulations (e.g., control of the illegal harvest of wildlife). It is important that the formulation and enforcement of forestry laws at municipal and provincial levels are coordinated. This will ensure consistency in policies within the watershed and more effective implementation of these policies.

6. Information, Education and Communications (IEC)

The various municipalities will work out a common IEC program to support forest management. Target audiences are:

  • the upland communities who need to be made aware of existing laws and policies and the consequences of the wanton destruction of forests. Orientation will also be held to encourage communities to participate in the program.
  • local organizations which can be potential participants in rehabilitation and reforestation efforts. They need to be informed on how they can participate and on any incentives that are available to them.
  • local officials, down to the barangay level, to orient them on existing forest laws and regulations. Local officials may also be informed of related initiatives and success stories of LGUs elsewhere in the country. A common IEC program will be conducted lake-wide. It will be coordinated with the ongoing IEC program of the DENR and DA. Production of materials will be undertaken when resources allow it.

4.2.2 Lake Management


Lake Dapao is the main source of income of fisherfolks in five lakeshore barangays and food for the municipalities around it and neighboring areas. The use of the lake has thus far been limited to fishing and tourism, both on a small-scale level. There are no serious problems that are evident on the lake ecosystem at present but the threats are increasing. It is important that lake resources are put under proper management this early before conditions in the lake reach critical levels. Fishing will remain as the main economic activity in the lake area. It is expected that eco-tourism will increase in significance as an economic sector in the future but even this would still be dependent on the richness of the lake’s aquatic resources. The enhancement of the productivity of the lake is obviously the core of the program.

The threats to the lake come from both outside and within the lake. The other components of this plan deal with the external threats. This particular component addresses mainly the “within” factors.


1. To enhance the productivity of the lake and thus help improve the welfare of lakeshore communities

2. To promote greater participation by lakeshore communities in the management of the lake


1. Establishment of Fish Sanctuaries

Fish sanctuaries will be established in all five lakeshore barangays to sustain the productivity and topreserve the habitat of important fish species. These sanctuaries will be demarcated and no fishing will be allowed within it. The establishment of these sanctuaries as protected as well as study areas will be covered by local legislation.

The concerned barangay will provide the funding for the demarcation of the sanctuary and the construction of a floating house cum guardhouse and watch tower. The barangay where the sanctuary will be located will be responsible for its maintenance and protection.  The BFAR and DENR will provide assistance in the location and delineation of these sanctuaries, and in the organization and trainings.

2. Buffer Zone Delineation and Perimeter Planting

There is a number of fishing barangays located along the lakeshore and the populations in these barangays are reported to be growing. In fact, the fast population growth in these areas has been identified as one of the threats to the lake. As in most areas the national policy that prescribes an easement of 40 meters from the bank of the lake has largely been ignored. It is feared that as urbanization of the lakeshore municipalities’ increase, new settlements may rise and commercial and industrial activities might expand towards the lake area and increase the risk of polluting the lake.

To avoid this problem, the 40 meter easement from the bank of the lake will be clearly delineated on the ground and declared as the lake’s buffer zone. The boundary of the buffer zone can then be planted with trees

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