Environmental fees collection scheme works for Bago City

Bago City Mayor Nicholas Yulo and City Environment and Natural Resources Officer Vicente Mesias share results of the payment for ecosystem services scheme (PES) with B+WISER during a recent program visit. (Photo credit: USAID/B+WISER)

      In February 2018, the Bago City local government unit’s (LGU) payment for ecosystem services (PES) scheme has collected more than one million Philippine pesos (about $20,000) according to Vicente Mesias, the City’s Environment and Natural Resources Officer (ENRO). This amount represents collections from 4,000 commercial and business establishments within the City alone. The collection is expected to further increase this quarter, as the LGU implements collection agreements with irrigators associations, sugar cane planters, tourism establishments, and households through the Bago City Water District. Since 2015, USAID’s Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) Program supported Bago City in setting-up the LGU-based PES scheme to collect funds that could be used to protect forests in the Bago River Watershed and Mt. Kanla-on Natural Park within the City’s jurisdiction. The PES scheme entails the collection of an environmental protection fee (EPF) from all domestic, agricultural, and commercial water users of the city. The collection of EPF started in early 2017, the proceeds of which will be used to support initiatives for the conservation of forest and biodiversity. The collected amount will also fund the development of alternative livelihood programs for forest communities to lessen their dependence on forest resources and encourage them to engage in forest protection. Bago City estimates that around PhP 2 to 3 million annually could be collected from various water users.