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Philippines to reforest land, create jobs

Wednesday, July 01, 2009 [ manilatimes.net ]


Tens of thousands of hectares of deforested land in the Philippines has been handed over to farmers in a novel job-creation and reforestation program, the government said Tuesday.

It said 33,387 farmers have been given two hectares each of either deforested upland areas or coastal mangroves, half of it to be farmed and half to be replanted with “trees suitable to the area.”

The target is to create 52,425 jobs, backed by P19,400 ($403) for each beneficiary, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced in a statement.

“Such opportunities will help give our upland families economic resiliency in dealing with the impact of the current global financial crisis while enabling them to take active part in fighting global warming,” Environment Secretary Joselito Atienza said.

The government did not say how long the farmers will be able to keep the land.

Denuded forests

Official data show the Southeast Asian archipelago, which once had 16 million hectares of forested land, lost about a third of that in just 15 years to 2005.

With a depletion rate estimated at 1,900 hectares a day, government projections suggest the Philippines’ remaining forests could be gone within 16 years.

The Philippines said 9.7 million Filipinos out of a total labor force of 37.8 million were jobless or underemployed as of April.--AFP

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