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Almost 300,000 planters have joined NGP in Western Visayas

ILOILO CITY, June 23 — The National Greening Program (NGP) implementation in the region has recorded a total of 270,144 individuals joining the government’s greening initiative for the past four years since it was launched on February 24, 2011 by virtue of the issuance of Executive Order No. 26 by His Excellency, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino.

CENR Officer Bernabe H. Garnace, NGP Regional Coordinator here, said that the massive campaign to bring back the lush greens of forests in Western Visayas and the crusade to combat and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change has roused the consciousness of individuals on the importance of growing trees.

Based on the records of the DENR VI, there were 131,342 individuals who joined the NGP activities in 2011; 65,254 planters were registered in 2012; 44,183 individuals participated in 2013; and, 29,365 participant in 2014.

In 2012, Garnace said that the agency shifted its strategy from mass social mobilization to community-driven development approach where the department partnered with organized people’s organizations in communities within or near the planting sites.

“During the initial stages of implementation, we have involved practically the whole Philippine bureaucracy by encouraging the local government units, other national government agencies, members of the academe including the civil society or civic organizations and individuals to join in planting activities, thus, the high number of participating individuals,” he explained.

At present, he added, the POs do the planting and the maintenance and protection of NGP sites.

Garnace also said that the office continues to have tree planting activities and partners with several groups, individuals and other national government agencies, among others especially in urban greening and in mangrove and beach forest development particularly those affected by the past severe typhoons like Yolanda.

He said that to make the project more sustainable, the agency has infused the planting of fruit-bearing trees and other perennial crops such as coffee and cacao including fuelwood tree species to create economic activities or sources of alternative livelihood opportunities and apparently reduce the incidence of poverty in communities within the planting sites.

“The DENR has contracts with these POs from seedling production, site preparation, hauling of planting materials, planting of seedlings and for the protection and maintenance of the established plantations, among others,” he said.

He lamented, however, that as years passed, potential planting sites are getting far and mostly inaccessible for motor vehicles.

“It’s very hard and risky if we continue to mobilize our employees, partner agencies and other groups and individuals to do the planting activities in distant and mountainous areas identified for NGP,” Garnace explained.

"DENR VI remains ahead of its target in terms of areas planted for NGP. A total of 36,775 hectares of the 36,454-hectare target, has been planted in the region from 2011 to 2014. Hopefully, we can attain the 27,570-hectare proposed target in the whole region after the culmination of the Program for year 2016," Garnace said, expressing optimism in this regard.

“For the past four years, we have exceeded our targets. At the average, we are 101 percent in our accomplishment, and we have a 90 percent survival rate on our plantations based on ground validation of our planting sites from 2011 to 2013,” he said.

The validation on the 2014 NGP sites is yet to be submitted to his office.

DENR Regional Director Jim O. Sampulna emphasized, however, that by all means, before the culmination of the project next year, the goal to plant at least 1.5 billion seedlings covering a minimum of 1.5 million hectares of public lands nationwide must be attained.

This could be done, he clarified, through full compliance with E.O. 26.

“Each one of us plays a big responsibility in the realization of NGP. We must take an active role in the protection of our environment for the future and for the generations to come,” Sampulna said. (PNA)

LAP/PR/VLO

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