BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) reported the region’s forest cover increased to nearly fifty percent over the past five years following the aggressive implementation of the government’s National Greening Program (NGP), one of the major reforestation projects to boost the revival of the country’s forest cover.
Engr. Ralph Pablo, DENR-CAR regional executive director, said that from a critical 43 percent forest cover in 2011, the ability of the region to exceed its NGP target of 1,00,000 reforested lands over the past five years contributed to significantly improving the region’s forest cover over the past five years.
However, he admitted what is noticeable based on the geographic information system or google map are the plantation areas in 2011 up to 2013 while the plantation areas in 2014 to 2016 are not yet noticeable because the planted trees are still growing.
“We are aggressive in the implementation of the NGP because of the new program of the present administration, the enhanced NGP. We want to sustain the identity of the Cordillera as a watershed cradle of Northern Luzon and improve the forest cover of barren areas in the region which are suitable for the growing of assorted trees,” Pablo stressed.
Of the total 1.85 million hectares land area of the region, more than 1.5 million hectares have been classified as forest reservations while the remaining land areas are either alienable and disposable and agricultural land.
Pablo disclosed from the 645,000 hectares forest cover of the region in 2011, it increased to some 746,000 hectares of forested areas contributing to improving the state of the region’s environment.
According to him, there were some challenges in the implementation of the NGP in areas that are not favourable for planting trees and the rocky portions of mountains that are not conducive for the growing of whatever type of trees.
Pablo explained the focus of the enhanced NGP is for the planting of agro-forestry trees to serve as an added source of income for the communities so that they will be empowered to preserve and protect the forest cover and be aggressive in increasing the presence of trees in the mountains.
He claimed the DENR-CAR will empower the people living in the different communities within the forests to be the stewards of the forests and for the people to be able to co-exist with the trees that serve as the neutralizer of the pollutants in the air.
He appealed to individuals and groups interested to partner with the government in sustaining the region’s forest cover to visit the nearest environment offices in their places to learn how the enhanced NGP will be undertaken.
By Dexter A. See