Some 69.37 million tree seedlings have been planted in some 117,688 hectares of open and denuded forestland, about 17 percent above the 100,000-hectare target for 2011.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the latest figure is based on the December 27, 2011 report of the National Greening Program (NGP), which is being implemented as a convergence initiative among the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform and the DENR.

“Our accomplishment this year already paints a very positive scenario for 2012 as all indicators point to meeting, if not breaching, our 2011 target despite the fact that the NGP went into full swing by the 2nd quarter of 2011 following the issuance of Executive Order 26 by President Aquino last February 24,” Paje said. The DENR intends to double the target at 200,000 hectares for next year.

Based on the report, some 567,324 individuals have already enlisted in the program and took part in planting the seedlings during the year. The tree planters represented a cross section of public and private volunteers from government agencies, schools, civic organization including the church, local government units and business sectors.

Paje reiterated NGP’s goal of posting a minimum survival rate of 80 percent for the seedlings by tapping science and sound upland practices and confining identified NGP planting sites only in areas where there are communities who will be tapped to maintain and ensure growth of planted seedlings into mature trees.

“We are using matured technology in the program to increase the survivability of the seedlings,” Paje said, referring to the Mycorrhiza technology and clonal technology which reproduce quality seedlings from vegetative parts of choice planting materials grown in clonal nurseries and are inoculated with root-growing hormones Mycorrhiza.

The NGP targets to plant 1.5 billion tree seedlings in 1.5 million hectares nationwide from 2011 to 2016. Priority areas for planting 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.