MANILA, Oct. 27 — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is moving closer to its 2011 target of producing 50 million seedlings for nationwide planting under the National Greening Program (NGP), the country's biggest reforestation bid so far.
Latest available DENR data show planting materials produced for the purpose already totaled 39 million seedlings as of October 21, accounting for 78.24 percent of the 2011 target.
"Between 80 to 85 percent of the seedlings are of indigenous species which we're promoting in reforestation," said Lito Exconde from the Eco-systems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) core group for NGP.
He noted the other seedlings produced include exotics and non-native species that already long adapted to Philippine conditions.
Data show NGP planting materials produced so far consist of prior stocks (1.79 million seedlings), Eco-systems Research and Development Service (ERDS)-supervised stocks (18.66 million seedlings) and people's organization (PO)-contracted stocks (18.66 million seedlings).
Exconde noted the prior stocks preceded NGP's launching in May this year.
Of the ERDS-supervised stocks, data show 4.30 million seedlings were produced by ERDB and DENR regional offices.
"Seedlings produced included cloned ones," Exconde said.
Cloned seedlings are grown from cuttings of parent plant stocks.
DENR also procured from the private sector some 14.36 million of the ERDB-supervised stocks, Exconde added.
To further help fast-track generating the required seedlings, DENR contracted POs to produce these planting materials.
Data likewise show sustained increase in NGP seedling production during the past three weeks.
From 36.72 million seedlings as of September 30, production grew to 38.48 million seedlings as of October 7 and 38.97 million seedlings as of October 14.
Executive Order No. 26 institutionalized NGP which aims to green by 2016 some 1.5 million hectares of open, denuded and degraded forest land nationwide.
An estimated 1.5 billion seedlings are needed for planting from 2011 to 2016 to green such land through NGP, DENR noted.
NGP's target sites are in production and protection areas.
Seedlings planted in production areas will be grown for eventual commercial harvesting to help address the country's timber needs.
In protection areas, however, DENR said seedlings will be grown to provide forest cover.
Decades of unabated logging and environmental degradation contributed to loss of the country's forest cover, authorities noted.
In the latest "Philippine Forestry Statistics" compilation as of 2008, DENR reported 2001-2003 sattelite images show forest cover in only about 7.16 million hectares of the country's land area which totals some 30 million hectares. (PNA)