Suzeth A. Regalado[NEWSFEATURE] Four hundred twenty (420) hectares of land in Laguna were identified to be part of the implementation of Executive Order (EO) 26. or the National Greening Program (NGP) for the year 2011. This is part of the move to complete planting 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land nationwide by the year 2016.
By end of October, the tree planting activities are set to be completed and the remaining months of 2011 would be dedicated for maintenance and identifying the NGP site for the year 2012. According to Forester Recillo, target areas in Laguna for the year 2012 will be doubled compared with this year’s.
According to Forester Noel M. Recillo, chief of the Forest Sector of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Laguna, NGP enjoins the different sectors of the community to participate in the effort to rehabilitate RP forests.
The identified NGP areas in Laguna are found in protected areas, locales with community based forest management, and urban watersheds. One hundred hectares of the target site under protected area is situated in Sitio Calo, Brgy. San Cristobal, San Pablo City; 150 hectares under Community Based Forest Management is situated at Brgy. Minayutan, Famy Laguna; and 200 hectares are distributed in target sites under urban watershed located in Malibanban watershed (80 hectares), LSPU Siniloan (100 hectares), Sta. Cruz watershed (10 hectares), and Magsaysay (10 hectares).
One of the strategies used by the greening program is social mobilization. It encourages more people to take part in the effort to conserve the forest. Different sectors of the community, including government bureaus, local government units (LGU), and private organizations have expressed their support to the greening program by taking part on the tree planting activities. NGP also enjoins government employees and participating students to plant ten seedlings individually per year.
According to Forester Recillo, the community’s participation in the greening program is very important. He emphasized that DENR itself can not accomplish the task without the help of the people, he added.
To increase the community members’ awareness about the greening program, DENR is implementing information-education campaigns through their website and collaboration with the media. Off site orientation are also conducted before the set date of the tree planting activity. This activity orients the participating school and organization on the proper technique of planting tree seedlings. Part of the offsite orientation is a talk about the tree planting activity, video presentation, and an open forum. The importance and benefits of the National Greening Program are also explained to the students and members of the organization.
According to Hermie Lantikan, Forester II, in charge of the records for reforestation at CENRO, the orientation is important in the tree planting activities so that participating sectors like students will value what they do, also the survival of the seedlings depends on how it was planted.
Aside from saving denuded forest areas, NGP seeks to contribute to poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaption. Among the tree species planted on NGP sites are indigenous like the Narra. Other sites also plant fruit bearing trees which will also benefit the Public Organization and beneficiary group as a source of livelihood.
The greening program also covers Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) for the maintenance Community Based Forest Management site. In the case of Laguna, the identified CCT beneficiary is the Famy Upland Farmers Association. In other areas, plantations under urban watershed are maintained by the local government.
The total budget for tree seedlings per hectare of land is Php 6,000 which is bought on reputable nursery. An additional Php 2,500 per hectare is allotted for site preparation which will cover hole digging, bamboo, clearing of the site, and fertilizers. According to Forester Recillo Php 2,500 per hectare site preparation alone is too small. The current proposal of the DENR to double budget allocation for NGP will help cope up with the project expenses, he added.
Proper planting of tree seedling is very important in the survival of the seedling. However, According to Hermie Lantikan, although off site orientations are done, during tree planting activity, students seem not to take the task seriously. It seems that students plant trees only for completion, she added, which should not be the case.
Despite of the effort to save the lost forest, there is still incidence of illegal logging. Recently, the DENR-CENRO confiscated 70 pieces of squared timber about 2000 board feet at Brgy. Anitay Paete Laguna. Forrester Recillo said that the safety of DENR staff is also a concern. To ensure the safety of DENR staff, Forester Recillo said that they ask assistance from the army.
Other people say that NGP is ambitious, Forester Recillo said, but with people’s cooperation the goal of the project can be accomplished.