GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/09 February) — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 is set to launch a region-wide survey and mapping of potential tree planting sites under the National Greening Program (NGP) using geotagging and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies.
Muripaga Umpar, DENR-Region 12’s regional technical director for forestry, said the activity will cover at least 15,862 hectares of public lands within the region that were identified as expansion sites this year for the NGP.
The agency has set a target of planting a total 7,931,000 seedlings of various tree species, including agricultural crops, in parts of the region this year under the NGP.
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 the survey, mapping as well as planning of the NGP tree planting sites in the region is slated to begin this month and is due for completion by March 31.
In line with the activity, he said they conducted a series of trainings and workshop for regional field personnel, NGP implementers and their support staff.
“The objective was to come up with a holistic approach to accomplish the survey, mapping and planning of the NGP sites,” he said in a statement.
The official said around 80 NGP field implementers underwent training on geotagging, which refers to “the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs, video, websites, SMS or text messages.”
An online reference website said geotagging may help users find a wide variety of location-specific information like images taken near a given location by entering latitude and longitude coordinates into a suitable image search engine.
It said geotagging-enabled information services can be used to find location-based news, websites, or other resources and may tell users the location of the content of a given picture or other media.
The technology has gained popularity with the increased use of internet-capable and GPS-enabled mobile devices, it added.
Paul Brian Lachica, DENR senior programmer, said geotagging uses space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions.
“It is an efficient and effective monitoring tool to validate and evaluate NGP planting sites,” he said.
Lachica said it complements the use of global information system maps, promotes transparency and total public disclosure.
Using geotagging technology, he said NGP implementers could mark all areas covered in the greening activities and other operations of the department.
Datu Tungko Saikol, DENR-12 regional executive director, said the adoption of geotagging was pursuant to DENR Memorandum Circular No. 2011-1 issued on March 8, 2011 by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.
It specifically mandated the adoption of the NGP computer-based reporting system through the NGP website as well as the NGP geotagging monitoring and evaluation system, he said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)