MANILA, Philippines – The government’s National Greening Program launched by the Aquino Administration in 2011 is a five-year project which aimed at planting 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of forest land in the country.
However, based on the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) in December 2019, only 12% of the target area has been planted up to this date.
Based on COA’s assessment, there was a problem with the former administration’s strategy and planning as the number of personnel was smaller as compared to the scope of the job.
Most trees ended up dying due to lack of care.
Some may have survived but they are among trees fit for agroforestry such as cacao.
“Ang pinakamalaking problema talaga is maraming hindi nag survive. Bakit hindi nag survive? Iyong wrong timing of planting, tapos wrong species and at the same time, of course, ang climate change (The biggest problem really was many didn’t survive. Why? Due to wrong timing and wrong species. At the same time, climate change),” the official explained.
At present, COA said, only about 7M hectares remain as forest land in the country which is only about 41.5% as compared to the scope of forest lands in 1934.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said there is no use blaming the former administration for what happened to the program.
Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said they are now working on ways to accomplish the program’s target.
“Magkakaroon ng impounding area for water and soil para lang sa pangangailangan nitong NGP natin, (We will establish impounding area for water and soil as required by the NGP,)” he said.
“This are the preparations na hindi nila nakita noon, (which they failed to note in the past,)” he added.
COA explained in its report that indeed immediate action is necessary to accomplish the program but it careful planning is also important.
The DENR agrees and is planning to reach out and seek the help of the communities in the target areas.
“Ngayon community based tayo. Itong community na ito kung ilang ektarya ang kaya niya, doon tayo. Hindi sapilitan ang gagawin, (We will do community based approach. We will determine how many hectares a community can accomplish planting. It will not be mandatory,)” Antiporda explained.
The officials said they are prioritizing bamboo for the initial phase of the tree planting as it easily grows and has variety of use.
COA recommends the use of drones to accurately identify the target areas for tree planting. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)
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