South Cotabato to restore denuded forests in T’boli

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 February) — The provincial government of South Cotabato is planning to rehabilitate some 40 hectares of a denuded timberland area in T’boli town as it continues to build up the province’s forest reserves.

Mary Jane Manlisis, chief forester of the Provincial Environment Management Office (PEMO), said Wednesday the local government has approved an initial budget of P1 million for the project, which is part of the province’s continuing community-based upland and natural resources management program

She said the initiative had been endorsed by Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes as among the province’s priority reforestation initiatives for this year.

Manlisis, who heads PEMO’s forest and inland water division, said the project will be implemented in portions of Barangay Talcon in T’boli, which is part of the declared Allah Valley Watershed Forest Reserve.

“We’re now preparing for the procurement of the planting materials and the organic inputs that will be used for the project,” she said in a statement.

Based on its development plan, she said the reforestation project will be implemented from June to September this year.

She said they earlier conducted a series of studies within the project area to identify the tree species that had thrived there.

“We will utilize the indigenous tree or timber species to help restore the area back to its original state,” she said.

Manlisis said they the reforestation project will mainly be implemented by their office in close coordination with the area’s residents.

She said they initially drafted a memorandum of agreement that will be signed by PEMO and the intended beneficiaries to ensure the sustainability of the project.

Meantime, Manlisis said they are pushing for the adoption by the provincial government this year of an incentive and reward system for informants on illegal logging, poaching and related activities in any part of the province.

She said the move aims to further strengthen the province’s continuing forest protection programs, specifically in the monitoring and apprehension of illegal loggers and poachers.

At present, she said their office mainly depends on its organized arm — the Association of South Cotabato Earth Savers — in its anti-illegal logging campaign.

“The incentive or reward system will not only strengthen our forest protection drive but also enhance our collaboration with other concerned stakeholders,” she added. (MindaNews)