GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/21 May) – Local officials and residents in nearby Koronadal City have scheduled a record-breaking planting of 250,000 trees for its second tree-growing festival next month along a critical mountain range straddling the area.
Koronadal Mayor Peter Miguel said Monday the local government is presently preparing at least 1,000 hectares of idle lands along the Quezon Mountain Range as sites for the massive tree-planting activity, which is set on June 29.
“We’re staging a bigger tree-growing festival this year to highlight the need for the doubling of efforts for the reforestation and rehabilitation of our depleted forest cover,” the mayor said.
During the tree-growing festival’s launching last year, around 25,000 local volunteers planted a total of 131,028 tree seedlings in 522.78 hectares of idle lands along the Roxas Mountain Range, which extends to six of the city’s 27 barangays.
The city government originally targeted to plant 120,000 trees in 500 hectares of land in the area.
For this year, Miguel said the initiative will be centered in communities covered by the Quezon Mountain Range in Barangays Mabini and San Jose.
He said they intend to double the number of volunteer tree-planters for this year through an ongoing massive registration drive.
Since last week, local government personnel have been visiting local colleges and universities as well as public and private elementary and secondary schools to encourage them to join the tree-growing festival.
They also set up registration desks in local shopping malls and other public places to sign up other prospective volunteers.
Augustus Bretaña, City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) chief, said they have so far validated 885 hectares out of their targeted 1,000 hectares of tree-planting sites.
He said they already have some 206,000 seedlings that are ready for planting out of their 250,000 target.
“Our validation is presently ongoing and we’re negotiating with a number of farmers and landowners for the inclusion of their lands to the program,” he said.
The city government decided to launch the tree-growing festival last year to highlight the area’s celebration of the International Environment Month held every June and support for the national
government’s National Greening Program.
In a briefer, the local government noted that the festivities aimed to promote environmental volunteerism among residents and the rehabilitation of the city’s declining forest reserve.
A report released by CENRO cited that the city’s forest reserve was down to just around 150 hectares or less than one percent of its total land area of about 27,000 hectares.
“We want to institutionalize this activity to promote a culture of environmentalism among our residents and at the same time help fast track the rehabilitation of our denuded forests,” Miguel added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)