GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 August) — Environment personnel in South Cotabato province are planning to launch a massive reforestation program to rehabilitate the area’s denuded forests and critical watersheds.
Siegfred Flaviano, acting Provincial Environment Management Office chief, said they are currently drawing up a feasibility study for the reforestation program, which was earlier identified by the local government as a long–term strategy to resolve the flooding problems in parts of the province.
He assigned their office’s forest and land management division to lead the study and come up with a project profile for the program.
“Our main priority is the headwaters of our major rivers and other upland areas in the province,” he said in a radio interview.
As directed by South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, Flaviano said the reforestation activities will begin in the upland areas and will eventually go down to the lowlands or downstream areas.
Citing initial details of the program, he said they are planning to reforest the river headwaters, watersheds and other upland areas through the development of tree plantations.
He said they will tap landowners and residents within their target areas as the main implementers of the program.
“We initially hire people to do the reforestation work for each of the identified plantation areas,” Flaviano said.
He said the hired implementers will be assigned to monitor and take care of the planted trees and eventually manage the tree plantations.
The reforestation program will initially cover the headwaters and watershed of the critical Allah River, which traverses six municipalities in the province.
The river, which traces its headwaters to the upland portions of T’boli and Lake Sebu towns, also passes through five localities in Sultan Kudarat and eventually drains at the Liguasan Marsh and the Rio Grande de Mindanao.
Allah River’s headwaters and watershed are within the Allah Valley Protected Landscape, which covers a total of 102,350 hectares in four municipalities in South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces.
The area is currently part of the National Integrated Protected Area System as provided for by Republic Act 7586. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)