More calamity-fighting trees for planting with P5-B release

From the Department of Budget and Management

Secretary Abad: Poor, disaster-prone provinces targeted as tree-planting areas

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released P4.99 billion to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the continued implementation of the National Greening Program, which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees across 1.5 million hectares nationwide by 2016.

The program aims to cover approximately 300,000 hectares annually from 2014 until 2016.

The fund release—charged against the FY 2014 General Appropriations Act (GAA)—will support actual seedling and planting activities for the year, as well as site maintenance and the protection of planting areas already established in previous years.

“Our funding support for the National Greening Program is well-timed, given that the season’s regular rainfall will allow seedlings to grow faster. This year, the DENR’s tree-planting efforts will give particular attention to areas with high poverty levels, as well as regions that are susceptible to natural disasters,” Secretary of Budget Florencio “Butch” Abad said.

“The Aquino administration is definitely looking at all viable solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. We’re not just looking at these options and twiddling our thumbs over them. We’re taking active steps to implement our disaster risk management programs,” he emphasized.

The program has exceeded its annual area coverage targets by an average of 20 percent for the first three years of implementation. Last year, it exceeded its annual target by 33,011 hectares, resulting in 182,548,862 seedlings planted in 333,160 hectares nationwide.

Moreover, the planting program has generated a total of 1.2 million jobs in different regions nationwide since 2011. Last year alone, it was able to hire 466,990 employees which is the highest number recorded since the program began.

“Aside from mitigating the devastating effects of climate change, the program also provides livelihood opportunities to the local residents. Our efforts to protect our environment go hand-in-hand with our commitment to protect and improve the living conditions of our people, besides catalyzing economic growth in agriculture-based communities,” Abad added.

From the P5-billion release, Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula) will receive the highest allocation of P384.8 million for the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Sibugay. This is followed closely by Region IV-A (CALABARZON) with P379.3 million for the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Quezon and Rizal. Central Luzon—which includes the provinces of Aurora, Pampanga, and Zambales—has also been allotted P366.7 million.

Seedlings for planting include those for trees that can be used for timber and fuelwood. Other seedlings include coffee, cacao, rubber, bamboo, rattan, and other fruit trees. Specific planting areas include forestlands, mangroves, ancestral domains, civil and military reservations, local-government-unit identified urban areas, inactive and abandoned mine sites, and other suitable lands.

Of the total 1.5 million-hectare program target, 683,481 hectares have already been cultivated as of last year, leaving 816,519 hectares to be developed until 2016.

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