BAGUIO CITY March 30 –Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Jr. disclosed the Aquino administration’s National Greening Program (NGP) is already 12 percent above the prescribed target during its first three years of implementation because of the stronger partnership between concerned government agencies, local governments, and the private sector in the bid to improve the country’s state of the environment.
Paje disclosed that at the end of 2014, stakeholders were already able to reforest some 1.005 million hectares of open spaces that has greatly contributed in improving the country’s forest cover so that the present and future generations will be able to enjoy a healthy environment.
“We are way ahead of schedule in the regreening of our forests and we have also completed the delineation of our forests in order to prevent further encroachments by communities nearby,” Secretary Paje stressed. He explained the country has a total of 8 million hectares of open spaces and the NGP is simply seeking the reforestation of at least 1.5 million hectares that is why the country will still have enough open spaces to cater to the food requirements of the growing population, especially in the remote communities.
In 2011, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III issued Executive Order No. 26 which put in place the National Greening Program (NGP) with an overall target of reforesting some 1.5 million hectares of open spaces in the different parts of the country and planting some 1.5 billion trees in the targeted plantation areas.
Secretary Paje cited the improved state of the country’s forests is one of the strategies employed by the government to help increase carbon sequestration in the air and reduce pollution in the different parts of the archipelago.
Furthermore, he cited the agency was also able to complete the forest delineation project that defined the boundaries of forests nationwide so that it will be the basis of the consolidated efforts among stakeholders to prevent further encroachments by unscrupulous and enterprising individuals to the country’s identified forests and watershed reservations.
According to him, the significant increase in the country’s forest cover once the NGP goals will be exceeded coupled with the drastic shift in the country’s dependence on fossil fuel as well as the shift in the use of electric cars will greatly lower the carbon emissions of the Philippines in compliance to the upcoming Paris Convention on Climate Change which mandates developing countries to also reduce their carbon emissions.
He explained under the Kyoto protocol, only developed countries were mandated to significantly reduce their carbon emissions but under the upcoming Paris Convention,developing countries will also be mandated to reduce their carbon emissions that is why the climate change cluster of the Cabinet is now still conducting computations on what commitments to make on the country’s reduction of carbon emissions.
He ordered regional, provincial, city and municipal offices of the agency to intensify their respective regreening projects, in coordination with local governments and the private sector in order to further exceed the prescribed target areas to be reforested to help achieve a greener Philippines for the benefit of the present and future generation of Filipinos wanting to enjoy a better state of environment for their children.