9,000 hectares eyed for reforestation in Region XII

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/9 Feb) – At least 9,000 hectares in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao are targeted for reforestation this year, regional environment officials said.

Alfredo Pascual, regional director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, instructed early this week the technical research department to produce one million seedlings of forest and fruit-bearing trees in line with the national reforestation program.

“We will tap local government units, students from private and public schools starting from Grade IV up to college, and tenure holders under various DENR programs and projects to reach our target,” he said.

Pascual said that the DENR would soon launch the “National Greening Program,” a reforestation project that seeks to rehabilitate 1.5 million ha. of denuded forest areas until 2016 across the country, or 250,000 has. annually.

The reforestation project is one of the priority programs guided by President Benigno C. Aquino III’s “social contract with the Filipino people as a platform towards reform,” he said.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje earlier said that while the DENR promotes the sustainable use of environment and natural resources to build the economy, “the welfare of Filipinos, both the present and future generations, should be at the center of all development efforts.”

Pascual said they will implement the greening project through the four provincial and nine community offices of the regional DENR.

The region straddles the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

To implement the regional reforestation project, Pascual said they have funds to purchase seedlings, on top of the planting materials that will come from the nurseries operated by the regional DENR, schools and local government units.

Ernesto Lezada, regional environment technical research department chief, said that the identification of areas, seedling requirements and actual tree planting are crucial to the attainment of the goals of the National Greening Program.

“More importantly, the effective mobilization of partners and maintenance of planted seedlings can spell the success of the greening program,” Lezada said.

A region-wide forestry sector meeting was conducted late last month for the reprogramming of the year’s work and financial plan, he said.

Last week, the regional DENR office launched the “International Year of the Forest”

The United Nations General Assembly, through Resolution 61/193 way back in December 2006, declared 2011 as “International Year of Forests,” which seeks to raise awareness on the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)