BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) disclosed the region’s forest cover is still in good condition because of the implementation of several local and foreign-funded regreening projects regionwide amidst the rapid deforestation brought about by the need for the establishment of sources of livelihood and food for communities.
Engr. Ralph Pablo, DENR-CAR regional director, said the current forest cover of the region is pegged at 43 percent which is equivalent to over 672,300 hectares out of the over 1.8 million hectares total land area of the region.
“We are confident that we will be able to significantly increase the region’s forest cover to over 50 percent by the middle of 2016 after all the regreening projects that are underway will be completed. We want to sustain the identity of the region as the watershed cradle of Northern Luzon because water is a major component of food security,” Pablo stressed.
Of the region’s 1.8 million hectares land area, 85 percent or approximately 1.56 million hectares have been classified as forest lands while 15 percent or nearly 300,000 hectares are said to be alienable and disposable.
Pablo revealed the government’s National Greening Program (NGP) seeks to reforest over 115,000 hectares of barren lands in the region by next year in order to contribute in efforts to help bring back the greenery of the mountain slopes while major components of the P2.8 billion Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management (INREM) of the Chico river basin and the P1.2 billion forest management and land use plan of the Upper Magat river basin will be reforestation activities along the stretches of the two river systems.
According to him, the government recognizes the contribution of the Cordillera as the major source of water for various productive activities in the lowland communities that is why efforts to preserve and protect the environment and the forest reservations are given optimum support to prevent the worst case scenario which would be the scarcity of water supply for everyone.
While the government also recognizes the importance to provide communities with available sources of food, Pablo underscored the state of watersheds should not be compromise because the need for sustainable supply of water will be passed on to the coming generations, thus, the need for both government agencies, local governments and the communities to closely work together in making sure that encroachments to the region’s forest cover will be significantly reduced.
The DENR-CAR official is confident that with the appropriate interventions being initiated by concerned government agencies, the region’s forest cover will significantly increase and will translate to abundant supply of water for industrial, agriculture, irrigation, domestic among other possible uses for the present and future generations of Filipinos.
He appealed to people living in communities within forest reservations to cooperate with the interventions that are now underway in order to contribute in improving the state of the environment beneficial to the needs of the present and future generations.
By Dexter A. See