BAGUIO CITY – Some 60,863 hectares of lands in the different parts of the Cordillera were successfully reforested by concerned stakeholders following the release of PP776.95 million by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the government’s National Greening Program (NGP) over the past four years.
Francis Basali, chief of the DENR-CAR’s planning and management division, said the Cordillera plays a key role in the country’s food security and agricultural development efforts considering that it has been the watershed cradle of Northern Luzon providing abundant water supply for agricultural farms in Regions, I, II and some parts of Region III through the various river systems.
In 2011, the DENR-CAR in partnership with stakeholders in the different communities were able to reforest some 6,838 hectares with an initial budget of P71.83 million followed by an additional 9,469 hectares with a budget of P97.91 million in 2012.
Furthermore, Basali added in 2013, the targeted regreening areas more than doubled compared to the 2012 target with around 20,397 hectares having a budget of P217,12 million budget before again increasing to some 24,159 hectares with an allocation of P255.31 million last year.
“We have to enhance our partnership with the different stakeholders in the communities to help us continue increasing the reforested areas in our region to achieve the goals of the NGP,” Basali stressed.
Engr. Paquito Moreno, DENR-CAR regional director, said for this year, the programmed reforestation areas dropped to only 14,658 hectares with an appropriation of P171.62 million before surging to some 25,507 hectares with a huge budget allocation of P280.58 million in 2016.
It can be recalled that President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 26 popularly known as the National Greening Program (NGP) mandating the planting of some 1.5 billion trees to around 1.5 million hectares of denuded forest lands to help revitalize the state of the environment in the different parts of the country.
Moreno called on their partners to continue their all-out support to the regreening program by actively participating in massive tree planting activities even if the plantation areas are now going into remote communities in the different parts of the region.
He explained denuded areas near access roads have already been adopted by concerned government agencies and local governments as their reforestation areas, thus, the remaining plantation areas have to move into interior portions in order to achieve the primary goal of the NGP of reforesting critical portions of forests for the benefit of the present and future generation of Filipinos.
The DENR-CAR official cited today’s youth must be empowered to continue being actively involved in efforts to preserve and protect the environment because they will be the ones to reap the fruits of a balanced ecology in the future and be able to pass on the coming generations the value of sustaining the state of the environment that will help in improving and uplifting their living condition.
By Dexter A. See