Guidelines for National Greening Program out

Man-made forestImage by coolnumber9 via FlickrA March 14, 2011 press release by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has released the guidelines on the implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP), which seeks to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares nationwide in six years, from 2011 to 2016.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje issued DENR Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2011-01, providing for the mechanics and specific targets of the National Greening Program.

Under Executive Order No. 26, President Benigno S. Aquino III tasked the DENR to lead in the implementation of NGP.

“The guidelines were crafted in such manner as to ensure that all greening activities, whether by the government, local government units or by the private sector, will contribute to the objectives of the program like poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation,” Paje said.

According to Paje, the program calls for massive participation not only in tree planting but also in plantation maintenance and seedling production by all sectors of the Philippine society. Hence, he said, the memorandum circular will serve to guide NGP partners/implementers in planning for their involvement in the program.

Of the 1.5 million hectares targeted for reforestation under the NGP, Paje said that a total of 100,000 hectares are targeted for this year. “We are starting this year with at least 100,000 hectares of new plantations. This will be increased to 250,000 hectares next year, and further increased in the years ahead until we meet the programmed target as directed by President Aquino.”

This year’s target areas for reforestation include 60,000 hectares within community-managed forestlands including mangroves and coastal areas; 20,000 hectares within protected areas; 20,000 hectares in ancestral domain areas; and 10,000 hectares in other areas specifically described in EO 26, such as civil and military reservations, urban areas identified by local government units, riverbanks and stream banks, and inactive and abandoned mines.

In consonance with the thrust of the government for food security, Paje said that aside from forest tree species, fruit-bearing trees will also be allowed to be planted under the program, such as mango, coffee, cacao, cashew, guyabano, and many more.

Forest tree species identified for planting in the uplands include dipterocarps, narra and other premium and indigenous species, as well as fast growing species such as mahogany, gmelina, bagras, acacia, and rubber. Bamboo and mangrove species shall also be tapped as reforestation crops, particularly in river banks and coastal areas, to control soil erosion and as buffers against wave action.

To ensure the survival of newly planted seedlings, Paje said that under MC 2011-01, the DENR field offices are to ascertain that there are stakeholders presently living in areas to be placed under NGP activities.

“This addresses the gap in many reforestation schemes that seedlings die within the immediate period because they were planted in areas where there are no stakeholders to tend to them and would directly benefit from the trees,” Paje said.

For community-managed forest lands, preference will be given to areas that have accessibility to planters and market destinations for the produce to be harvested from the trees when already bearing their fruits or byproducts like bamboo and rattan.

The existence of peoples’ organizations (POs) that have active registration status with relevant government organizations such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Cooperative Development Authority will also be prioritized; otherwise, the DENR shall assist POs in acquiring the necessary accreditation.

Paje also stressed that barangay officers will be tapped in the identification and selection of areas and sites “for consideration of DSWD in the grant of incentives to qualified NGP beneficiaries under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.”

MC 2011-11 sets the months from July to December for the planting season “following the respective climatic types, planting calendars of forest and fruit trees species and prevailing and forecasted weather conditions by PAGASA, for higher survival of the planted seedlings.”