Guidelines for National Greening Program out

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has released the guidelines on the implementation of the National Greening Program 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 implemention 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 targetted for reforestation under the NGP, Paje said that a total of 100,000 hectares are targetted 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 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 streambanks, 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, sunch 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.  Bamboos and mangrove species shall also be tapped as reforestation crops particularly in river banks and coastal areas to control soil erosion and as buffer 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 present 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 accesibility to planters and market-destinations for the produce to be harvested from the trees when already bearing their fruits or by-products like bamboos 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.” 

Paje welcomes SC deadlines for Manila Bay cleanup

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje welcomed a recent resolution by the country’s highest tribunal ordering government agencies to abide by deadlines in cleaning up Manila Bay.

“I personally welcomed the move of the Supreme Court of giving the DENR, as well as the other government agencies, time frames within which we are to implement our respective tasks in cleaning up the Manila Bay,” Paje said during a sail of Manila Bay on Friday (March 11, 2011) with five Supreme Court justices led by Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The other justices who joined the Manila Bay inspection tour were Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr, Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo and Justice Jose P. Perez.

The sail, which began at the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) wharf in South Harbor in Manila aboard MV EDSA II, provided the SC justices an ocular assessment of on-going efforts in the historic bay’s rehabilitation and restoration. “The overall state of Manila Bay has deteriorated since the issuance of the mandamus, but there are certain areas that have actually shown a little improvement. The deadlines set by the SC will hopefully lead to the bay’s rehabilitation at the soonest possible time,” Paje said.

The SC on February 15, 2011 rendered a decision based on recommendations by the Manila Bay Advisory Committee (MBAC) led by SC Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr., to set time frames for the agencies to perform their tasks as ordered in a “writ of continuing mandamus” for the DENR and 10 other government agencies to clean up Manila Bay, known worldwide for its beautiful sunset. The mandamus was issued in December 2008 as a result of a complaint filed by “concerned residents of Manila Bay” on the alleged inaction of government to improve the bay’s condition.

During the meeting, Paje directed Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO) Executive Director Noel Gaerlan to submit to the SC the updated Operational Plan for Manila Bay Coastal Strategy (OPMBCS) even before the June 30, 2011 deadline set by the SC. The plan is also to include template forms or lists for an environmental compliance audit as suggested by environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa. 

Oposa had presented “practical ways” to clean up the bay, suggesting that issues be divided into three: solid waste management, liquid waste management, and informal settlers. He also proposed that barangays be audited according to their compliance to the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, evaluating them with a “point system” for segregation, collection, existence of materials recovery facilities, dumpsites, and the like.

Earlier during the meeting, MBCO’s Gaerlan presented the results of water quality monitoring for year 2010, indicating the amounts of fecal and total coliform as counted in 14 monitoring stations set up along bathing beaches around the bay.  These stations are located in the following bathing areas:  two stations each at Noveleta, Tanza and Naic, all in Cavite; Limay and Mariveles in Bataan; and one each at the Navotas Fishport, Luneta Park, Bacoor and Rosario, Cavite. 

Of these 14, only six passed the class SB criteria for fecal coliform, namely two stations in Noveleta, two in Tanza, one each in Mariveles and Limay.  Meanwhile, nine yielded passing marks for total coliform, namely two in Noveleta, two in Naic, one in Cavite, and all four in Bataan.

Gaerlan also reported that the Parañaque River has reached a critical level of  0.345 mg/L level of dissolved oxygen (DO), far below the ideal of above 5mg/L. DO is the amount of oxygen necessary for marine life to survive.

On the other hand, the Ylangylang River in Cavite registered high amounts of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), which at 89.75 mg/L is way above the required 5mg/L. BOD is the measure of oxygen used by bacteria to decompose organic waste in the higher supply. A high amount of BOD means bacteria robs other aquatic organisms of oxygen supply they need to live. 

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