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Catanduanes solon vows more tree planting events this year

VIRAC, Catanduanes, Jan. 28 – Overjoyed by the success of the tree planting project he recently launched, the representative of the lone congressional district of this island province on Friday said more trees will be planted across the island as the project proceeds with its monthly tree planting event until 11.11.11 or Nov. 11, this year.

Dubbed Project 1.11.11 launched on Jan. 11, 2011, the undertaking drew hundreds of participants from all walks of life—farmers, fishermen, public transport drivers, teachers, schoolchildren, students, vendors, government workers, housewives, members of non-government organizations and barangay officials who eagerly volunteered to take part.

“We have made history," Congressman Cesar Sarmiento said in a statement here this week as he announced that 32,294 new trees have been planted in the province in a day during the event.

A report of the Catanduanes Tribune over the week said elementary and secondary schoolchildren joined by their parents in responding to the call for hands into the project accounted for the most number of trees planted totaling 11,035 seedlings.

Workers from the national government agencies and members of local non-government organizations contributed 9,193 new trees while barangays officials including the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) from the entire 11 towns covered by the province planted 4,981, it said.

College students and workers of the higher education sector both from public and private schools have 4,140 trees planted with Catanduanes State Colleges (CSC) boasting of 2,900 trees or 70 percent of the sector’s total, the Tribune reported.

Municipal officials and employees chipped in 2,825 trees, with the small town of Caramoran leading in number with 850 trees, the report said adding that the total figure could still go up when all other participants come up with their reports.

“The 11th day of each month until Nov. 11 this year will now become a tree planting fiesta for Catanduanes as we seek to achieve at least a quarter of a million trees planted on all parts of the province where they are needed most,” Sarmiento said.

Last Dec. 31, several local organizations headed by the Mountain Care & Hikers Association conducted a tree planting mission at several locations in this capital town as a pre-cursor to the January 11 province-wide event.

The groups also pledged to plant trees on the 11th of every month until Nov. 11, 2011. They likewise called on schools to encourage their pupils to grow seeds of the fruits they eat so that the resulting seedlings could be used in the tree planting activities.

Sarmiento said he arrived at the idea of launching the tree-growing project after having seen during the course of the recent poll campaign the effect of declining forest cover on the environment, as evidenced by landslides, floods and decreasing water supply during summer.

He said it is high time now for the people to give back to the forest what they had taken from it, noting that the once lush forest cover of Catanduanes had already been reduced to only around 12 percent or even less.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the other hand said that the closed canopy forest of the island province now stands at only about five percent of the 151,150 hectare land area, or less than 5,000 hectares.

“I now challenge every Catanduanon to join me in my campaign to restore the forest cover of the province so that we are able to live in any part of the island free from fear of being victimized by natural disasters like floods and landslides,” Sarmiento said.

The province is majority of a mountainous terrain, thus, it cannot attain the economic development it had been dreaming of with its denuded forest. Spending for public infrastructure projects and other facilities would be a waste of government money as these projects would just be ruined by floods or landslides if the forest cover would not be restored first, he added. (PNA)

FFC/DOC/cbd

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