Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has made a fresh pitch for Filipinos to consider planting and using bamboo as wood alternative in order to help increase the country’s forest cover.

Cimatu said that even the government is now shifting to bamboo plantation under its flagship reforestation initiative - the Expanded National Greening Program (ENGP).

“Our effort now is to plant bamboo and probably in five to six years, we can harvest it to make it a wood substitute,” Cimatu said.

He added: “Instead of cutting the trees in the forest, we will use bamboo. So, this is really a shifting strategy.”

The environment chief made the statement during the signing of memorandums of agreement between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) and SteelAsia Foundation Inc. (SAFI) in connection with their participation in the ENGP.

Around 20 percent of the ENGP plantation sites are currently set aside for bamboo, but Cimatu wants to increase this to at least 40 percent.

“We are slowly shifting to bamboo plantations,” Cimatu said. “The reason for that is we have to be aggressive in improving our forest cover. We want to double it so we will accelerate bamboo plantation,” he added.

Cimatu said that “engineered” bamboo can be used as a substitute to traditional hardwood building materials, thus eliminating the need to cut trees in the forest.###