DENR-12 to use industrial crops for reforestation

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 February) — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 will prioritize the planting this year of various high-value agro-industrial crops for the continuing implementation in the region of the flagship National Greening Program (NGP).

Datu Tungko Saikol, DENR Region 12 director, said Friday they have launched a series of consultations for the development of a commodity roadmap for the NGP, focusing on various high value crops like coffee, cacao and rubber.

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.

He said such move was in compliance with an earlier order issued by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, directing the agency’s regional offices in Mindanao to promote the planting of high-value agro-industrial crops under the NGP.

Aside from coffee, cacao and rubber, he said the DENR chief also pushed for the planting of mangroves and timber trees like Falcata.

Saikol said a team from the DENR central office’s Forest Management Bureau earlier met with DENR-12 personnel and NGP implementers to discuss the initiative.

“It focused on discussions regarding the program’s strategies and exchanges of recommendations related to its implementation,” the official said.

Forester Gabriel Baute, DENR-12’s regional coordinator for the NGP, said they were able to thresh out during the meeting some issues and concerns affecting the implementation of the program in the area.

NGP, which is based on Executive Order 26 issued by President Benigno S. 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.

During its launching in 2011, DENR-12 facilitated the planting of 2,332,500 trees in 4,705 hectares of combined public areas throughout the region.

In 2012, the agency was able to cover a total of 11,833 hectares of public lands and planted about 4,452,000.

Last year, Baute said they were able to fully cover their targeted expansion area of 15,862 hectares, which was equivalent to a total of 7,931,000 trees.

DENR-12 adopted last year the use of geotagging and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies to ensure the proper implementation of the NGP in the region.

Geotagging 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.

Baute said they earlier distributed GPS-capable tablets to their personnel for the geotagging of the NGP sites within the region. (MindaNews)