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EDC holds stakeholder consultation on expanded BINHI program

DUMAGUETE CITY, Aug. 27 – – The country’s primary geothermal power producer, Energy Development Corp. (EDC), on Thursday started its stakeholder consultations in preparation for what they say is a massive greening project for the entire Negros Island.

The expanded BINHI program aims to target Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental and will be an EDC-backed project that involves different partners and stakeholders for a greener Negros, said James Villaroman, EDC’s business unit head for Negros Island.

BINHI is a corporate-led four-pronged reforestation initiative of EDC focusing on growing trees and bringing back vanishing high value species, especially the endemic or native trees of the Philippines as well as biodiversity restoration, he said.

But EDC envisions that its expanded BINHI program would no longer be just a program but a movement instead, where stakeholders are to be actively involved in not reforestation but forest restoration of the entire Negros Island Region, Villaroman said.

Still without a formal name to go with it, Villaroman appealed to the multi-sector representation in Thursday’s stakeholders’ consultation to support and take part in the program, highlighting their important roles in making this endeavor a success.

Villaroman cited the “high environmental consciousness” of the people in Negros which has inspired the company to embark on this “big, big program” that will run for five to 10 years at the most with a “high impact outcome”.

He made an appeal to help EDC think of ways on how to do this at the regional level considering that the Negros Island has formally been declared a region.

If realized, Negros Island Region will be “the biggest region to unite for a forest restoration” program that will not only grow trees, restore biodiversity and promote environmental consciousness but also create business and livelihood opportunities as well, according to Villaroman.

One of the concerns raised in the consultation was on how to encourage private land owners to plant trees in line with the proposed expanded BINHI program.

The idea is that as “One Negros, the combined efforts can deliver extraordinary results”, EDC said.

The main objective of the forest restoration is “to create a ‘diverse’ stand of trees following the original composition”, and will target areas including open lands, grasslands, degraded forests and forest gaps, Villaroman explained in his briefing presentation.

Measures of success include survival of trees, good canopy cover, presence of natural re-growths, and improved diversity, he added.

Three major inputs to consider for this are land (availability), planting materials and labor, Villaroman said.

Present during the stakeholders consultation were Dauin Mayor Neil Credo, Dumaguete City Vice Mayor Woodrow Maquiling, Sr., Col. Allan Martin of the 302nd Brigade of the Philippine Army, officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Negros Oriental, headed by PENRO Charlie Fabre, Ed Du of the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI), Fiscal Ely Escoreal, and representatives from other sectors such as the academe, the media, advocacy groups and civil society.

A workshop followed at which the participants were asked to provide inputs on possible approaches in making this enormous region-wide greening program unique from the rest and how each agency, sector or representation can help in its success.

On Friday, EDC will also hold a similar consultation in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental to also get the pulse of the people on the other side of the island region regarding the proposed expanded BINHI program. (PNA)

RMA/JFP/SGP

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