Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called for increased private sector participation in the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP), a flagship reforestation initiative of the government aimed at increasing the country’s forest cover.

“We hope to encourage more private companies to help us in restoring and protecting our forests as we seek to establish new ENGP plantations,” Cimatu said after signing on behalf of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on February 28, the separate agreements with two private entities in relation to their participation in the ENGP.

The two are Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC) and SteelAsia Foundation Inc. (SAFI), which both agreed to collaborate with the DENR in the national greening efforts by planting and nurturing trees.

Cimatu said the government has made it easier for the private sector to join the ENGP with his issuance last year of DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2019-03, which provides the guidelines for private sector participation in the reforestation program.

The DAO allows companies to enter into public-private partnership scheme through establishments of new ENGP plantations, maintenance and protection of existing plantations, and protection of existing forests outside ENGP areas.

Pursuant to the DAO, the DENR entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with MMPC for the reforestation activities within a 30-hectare forestland at Barangay Kapatalan in Siniloan, Laguna.

It also entered a MOA with SAFI covering 23 hectares of forestland at Barangay Dayawan in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

Under the two MOAs, MMPC and SAFI agreed to allocate funds to cover the five-year implementation of various activities, which include site preparation, seedling production or procurement, and maintenance and protection of the established plantations and their surroundings.

The DENR, for its part, will identify and delineate the forestlands, and determine the indigenous tree species to be planted, mode of plantation establishment, and protection and maintenance of the areas covered by the MOAs.

The agency will also choose jointly with the companies the people’s organizations or communities that will plant and nurture the seedlings in the next five years.

ENGP is the extension of the National Greening Program created by virtue of Executive Order (EO) 26 and implemented from 2011 to 2016. During its six-year implementation, the program posted an accomplishment of 1.3 billion seedlings planted in 1.7 million hectares.

Established in 2015 under EO 193, ENGP seeks to cover the remaining 7.1 million hectares of open, degraded and denuded forests in the country from 2016 to 2028. ###