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DENR to rehab degraded Calabarzon forests

By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 1, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is rehabilitating 17,000 hectares of degraded forests in the Calabarzon region this year under the National Greening Program (NGP).

DENR Calabazon director Reynulfo Juan said almost half of the programmed area for reforestation is located in Quezon province.

Since the implementation of the NGP in 2011, around 63,000 hectares in Calabarzon have already been reforested. The DENR Calabarzon targets to reforest 8,588 hectares in Quezon; 5,337 in Rizal; 3,019 in Laguna; 200 in Batangas; and 20 in Cavite.

Juan said specific sites have already been identified, as well as the tree species to be planted.

“These areas will be planted with more than nine million seedlings consisting of indigenous species of forest and fruit-bearing trees, and mangrove propagules,” he said. “We will also plant fuel wood such as kakawate, and economically viable plants such as coffee, cacao, bamboo and rattan.”

In Quezon province, more extension officers are being recruited to carry out the reforestation program.

“We have the support of 87 extension officers who are assigned in the Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices and they will assist NGP site coordinators in establishing new plantations, maintaining and protecting those already established,” said provincial environment and natural resources officer Alfredo Palencia.

The National Greening Program (NGP) is a massive forest rehabilitation program of the government established by virtue of Executive Order No. 26 issued in Feb. 2011 by President Aquin. It seeks to grow 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares nationwide within a period of six years, from 2011 to 2016.

Aside from being a reforestation initiative, the NGP is also seen as a climate change mitigation strategy as it seeks to enhance the country’s forest stock to absorb carbon dioxide, which is largely blamed for global warming.

It is also designed to provide alternative livelihood activities for marginalized upland and lowland households by engaging them to help in seedling production and care as well as in the maintenance of newly-planted trees.

As a convergence initiative among the Departments of Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and DENR, half of the targeted trees to be planted under the program would constitute forest tree species intended for timber production and protection as well. The other 50 percent would be composed of agroforestry species.

Areas eligible for rehabilitation under the program include all lands of the public domain including forestlands, mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domains, civil and military reservation, urban greening areas, as well as inactive and abandoned mine sites.

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