SAVING PHILIPPINE FOREST
SAVING PHILIPPINE FOREST
When the Spaniards came to colonize the country, our land was bursting with lush forests, occupying around 90 percent of the total land area of 30 million hectares. Forest trees then comprised of more than 2000 species, majority were indigenous or endemic to the country.
Decades of mismanagement, however, turned a big chunk of our forestlands (about 8 million hectares) unproductive, denuded or degraded. Thus, the National Greening Program (NGP) was conceived to bring back the lush vegetated cover of the uplands by involving the citizenry, particularly the students and government employees. But other sectors are also encouraged to join in the effort as, like other nations in the world, the Filipino people remain our most important national asset capable of reviving the lost green gold of the country.
Launched in May last year by no less than President Aquino by virtue of Executive Order No. 26, the NGP seeks to plant some 1.5 billion trees covering a land area of 1.5 million hectares over a period of six years from 2012-2016.
Of the 1.5 billion tree seedlings, 50 percent shall be forest trees. The other half shall be agro-forestry, or a mix of fruit and forest trees to support the livelihood of some six million upland families in identified areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
The NGP envisions to achieve its target by mobilizing some 14 million elementary students and about seven million high school students nationwide. Government employees numbering some 1.5 million nationwide will also be tapped in the program. Each one is mandated to plant at least 10 seedlings each year throughout the program period.
Under the principle of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), the DENR will also be tapping the engagement of private establishments, companies and industry associations in the greening effort as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
But, unlike previous greening initiatives, the NGP has been designed to address three key areas of development - human development, economic development, and environmental protection.
Under human development, NGP targets food security, including sufficient water supply, economic empowerment, as well as ecological stewardship by involving target people’s organizations and indigenous peoples as vanguards of forest resources.
Under economic development, NGP advocates for increased and sustainable supply of forest-based raw materials; increased productivity of idle lands (value creation); increased economic activity in the uplands; and optimized utilization of upland resources, while avoiding "kaingin-making" or the so-called “slash and burn” agriculture and other destructive practices.
On environmental protection, the NGP hopes to address environmental productivity and stability; climate change mitigation and adaptation; and biodiversity conservation.
Among the priority areas for rehabilitation under the NGP include mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domain areas, civil and military areas, urban areas under the greening plan of LGUs, inactive and abandoned mine sites, and all other suitable lands for reforestation