The state of environmental degradation in the Ipo Dam watershed system is a classic case of making two steps forward and one step back. It can also be likened to a tug-of-war between the settlers and the government/volunteers.
The fragile ecosystem of the watershed can only take so much. If the endless cycle of reforestation (on the part of the government and volunteers) and deforestation (on the part of the settlers) continues, soon there will be nothing left to protect in the Ipo watershed.
The national government is no help, either, what with the never-ending wrangling between the DENR and the MWSS on who should be responsible for what.
While we wait for them to settle their differences, it would be a good idea to look at a model that actually worked, like what they did in Subic Bay.
When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the Aeta community that lived in its slopes was dislocated. The government allocated a site for them in Subic, Zambales, and a rehabilitation program began. Part of this program is the deputisation of the Aetas themselves as wardens of the forest, working for the local government as paid guides in what is known as JEST (Jungle Environment Survival Training), an eco-pilgrimage tourism project.
By offering them with an alternative source of income other than the destructive slash-and-burn farming, the Aetas look to the forest as a sustainable source of income, becoming its most avid nurturers.