Around 45,000 hectares of denuded and open forestland have been planted with 35.6 million seedlings by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as of October this year, posting a 95-percent accomplishment of its 2020 target of 47,166 hectares.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed confidence of hitting the 2020 target under the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP), the government’s flagship reforestation initiative.

“We are on track to reach or even exceed the 100-percent mark as we are now gradually increasing targets for plantation establishments,” Cimatu said.

“We are also doubling our efforts in protection and maintenance to increase the survival rates in plantation sites established in prior years,” he added.

From 2017 to 2019, protection and maintenance efforts have been undertaken in some 369,371 ENGP plantations. These were established involving some 5,876 peoples’ organizations (POs) as partners.

In 2020, 807 more POs were enlisted as partners for the ENGP bringing to 6,683 the POs engaged by the DENR from 2017 to 2020. In 2019, only 19,617 hectares were targeted for planting or only 14 percent of the 2018 target of 136,466.

In total, around 2 million hectares have been planted with 1.7 billion seedlings since 2011 when the ENGP was launched.

The program has also generated at least five million jobs, benefitting some 700,000 upland dwelling individuals hired in seedling production, site preparation of planting sites, and maintenance and plantation protection activities.

From 2019 to June 2020, around 62,366 individuals have benefited from the 345,551 jobs created during the period. Another 2,740 were employed as forest extension workers tasked primarily to give technical assistance to all NGP partners and beneficiaries on proper tree plantation management.

Forest extension workers also assist POs in sourcing affordable farming tools and post-harvest facilities, and in identifying opportunities to market their produce.

In 2015, Malacañang issued Executive Order 193 extending the NGP’s implementation period from 2016 to 2028 to cover the country’s estimated 7.1 million hectares of remaining unproductive, denuded, and degraded forestland.

In its proposed 2021 budget, the ENGP targets to plant in 82,349 hectares and to produce 72.9 million seedlings. ###