Civic groups commit to rehabilitate 30 hectares more of Marikina watershed

Buoyed by the success of their six-year-old alliance, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has renewed its partnership with two service-oriented organizations for the rehabilitation of the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL).

This time, the Rotary Club of Makati-Rockwell (RCMR) and the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) agreed to plant trees on an additional 30 hectares of forestland within the UMRBPL, a major source of water supply for Metro Manila and nearby areas.

The DENR-RCMR-CESB partnership originally covers only seven hectares at Sitio San Ysidro in Barangay San Jose, Antipolo City under the National Greening Program (NGP), the government’s flagship reforestation initiative.

RMCR has been funding the planting and maintenance of some 3,000 tree seedlings planted by its volunteers since last year under its “Preventing Disasters, Providing Livelihood Project,” which received technical support from the DENR’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Rizal.

Rizal PENRO chief Isidro Mercado said the expansion is expected to raise the benefits the residents of Sitio San Ysidro have been getting from the project, both in terms of economic and environmental opportunities.

According to Mercado, the residents were hired to conduct maintenance and protection activities on the planted areas, including the right to harvest the fruits from the grown trees like guyabano, mabolo, laputi and bunga.

Mercado said the additional 30 hectares cover steep hillsides that have been plagued by severe erosion, affecting the agricultural activities of families trying to establish small, intensive household farm lots in the area.

The head of the Rizal PENRO also endorsed the plan of RMCR to bring the DENR’s partnership with RMCR and CESB to other provinces.

He said former RMCR president Rolando Metin plans to include coastal planting somewhere along the coastal areas of Quezon province and do the planting activity twice instead of once a year.

The tripartite partnership began in 2010 when Metin, a former DENR undersecretary and CESB member, engaged the DENR for a tree-planting activity along the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

The SLEX Tree-Planting Project aimed at improving road safety and comfort for motorists by planting and growing trees along the 45-kilometer expressway.

By 2014, the project planted some 18,423 indigenous and ornamental tree seedlings, which included golden showers and fire trees, with a 50 to 70 percent survival rate based on the assessment done by the DENR-Region IVA office in Calamba, Laguna. ###