GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 Jan) – Environment personnel in Region 12 are targeting to plant nearly eight million trees this year as part of the continuing implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP) of the national government in the region.
Muripaga Umpar, regional technical director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 12’s Forest Management Services, said Thursday they have identified at least 15,862 hectares of public lands in the region as NGP planting sites for this year.
Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Umpar said their assessment showed that the targeted planting sites, which are mostly located within upland areas in the region, could accommodate a total of 7,931,000 trees.
“We are now in the process of delivering the seedlings to the identified planting sites,” he said in a media forum in Koronadal City.
In 2012, Umpar said they were able to cover a total of 11,833 hectares of public lands and planted about 4,452,000 trees under the NGP, which is now entering its third year of implementation.
During its launching in 2011, he said they facilitated the planting of 2,332,500 trees in 4,705 hectares of combined public areas throughout the region.
The official said they are planning to start the massive tree planting before the end of the month and eventually wind up by the end of November.
He said the planting schedule was based on a directive issued by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to regional environment personnel mandating that all field works or activities should be completed by the end of November.
By December, DENR personnel were tasked to focus on completing their reports and other related “paper works,” he said.
Although acknowledging that their NGP targets for this year were quite high, Umpar assured that they were doable.
He said they have already linked with several private and government institutions and organizations in the region to help achieve this year’s NGP targets.
A number of government agencies in the area have joined hands with the DENR in implementing the NGP program as volunteer planters, long-term plantation stewards and donors, he said.
“We’re trying to do our very best to accomplish these targets as mandated by the President. We will raise these seedlings and plant them and we’ll pack up and leave our offices if we can’t accomplish them,” Umpar said.
NGP, which based on Executive Order 26 issued by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, is a nationwide reforestation project that aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares from 2011 to 2016 for poverty reduction, food security, livelihood development, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Last November, the DENR forged an agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Interior and Local Government for the implementation of a scheme that will involve beneficiary-families under DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps as well as Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) personnel into the NGP.
Dubbed “Buying a Living Tree System” or BLTS scheme, 4Ps beneficiaries will plant and maintain tree seedlings to be grown in selected BFP fire station facilities strategically located in areas near or accessible to NGP planting sites.
Earlier, the National Anti-Poverty Commission identified around 609 “focus municipalities” where families can be placed under the DSWD’s 4Ps for the NGP implementation in line with the government’s poverty reduction goals. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)