LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Some 1,300 beneficiaries of the government’s Educational Assistance Program (EAP) under the Cordillera office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP-CAR) will participate in the regreening of the region’s forests through tree planting activities involving them and the members of their families.
Lawyer Roland P. Calde, NCIP-CAR regional director, said under their new program, each of the scholars will be required to plant 10 tree seedlings per semester during the duration of their EAP scholarship to boost the efforts of the government in inculcating among the youth the importance of preserving and protecting the environment apart from their being educated on the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy.
He explained if a grantee is enrolled in a 4-year course and is a beneficiary of the EAP for the said period, the beneficiary could have planted at least 80 tree seedlings with a 100 percent survival rate.
“We want to teach the youth the important role that our watersheds play in the country’s agriculture sector through their active involvement in tree planting activities plus the fact that they will be educated on the importance of the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy so that they will be the ones to help us spread the benefits of the Cordillera achieving autonomous status,” Calde stressed.
The NCIP-CAR official said the tree planting activities will be launched in the different parts of the region from July 9-31 so that it will also be replicated by the EAP scholars’ fellow youth in their places.
According to him, the members of the families of the beneficiaries will also be required to help the students maintain the planted trees to guarantee their ultimate survival and for the immediate replacement of tree seedlings that die in the course of the project duration.
Calde emphasized the involvement of the youth in tree planting activities will help them understand the reason why indigenous peoples (IPs) continue to fight for their rights against the entry of multi-national companies that will develop, exploit and utilize the region’s natural resources, citing the fact that they will also be empowered to stand for the rights of IPs to their ancestral domain and the proper utilization of the resources that should result in bigger benefits for the host and neighboring communities.
He said the monitoring of the planted trees will be done in coordination with concerned government agencies, local governments, and various stakeholders to make sure that the beneficiaries comply with their mandate of helping bring back the greenery of the Cordillera mountains.
Calde urged the family members of the EAP beneficiaries to support their participation in the new rules that were crafted by the agency so that more tree seedlings will be able to survive and serve their purpose for the benefit of the present and future generation of Cordillerans.
He added the EAP beneficiaries could plant more than 10 tree seedlings per semester during their inclusion in the program depending on the availability of space that could be planted in the plantation sites they have selected under the program. By HENT