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300 forestry personnel undergo training for NGP geotagging

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has invested significant resources to purchase geotagging equipment and train over 300 forestry personnel on the use of the technology, Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said.

This is in line with the DENR’s adoption of the geotagging technology in the implementation of the ambitious National Greening Program (NGP), which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares from 2011 to 2016.

Geotagging utilizes global positioning satellite (GPS) and Web-based mapping to allow real-time monitoring of NGP locations, especially on getting accurate count of trees planted and their conditions.

Geotagging is the process of attaching coordinates and other location-specific information to pictures and videos, usually with a handheld device such as a camera or mobile phone that is GPS-enabled.

Paje said the adoption of the geotagging would “ensure the integrity and correctness of the accomplishment being reported, particularly on the survival aspect of the program.”

“Owing to the centrality of transparency and accountability in NGP’s implementation, it is without question that the authenticity and accuracy of accomplishment reports coming from the field should be assured,” Paje said.

Paje noted that accurate maps of planted areas and their accessibility were two major elements lacking in past government reforestation programs.

Even in areas where the NGP employs peoples’ organizations to do tree planting as part of a livelihood program, the technology gives us the capability to accurately and easily locate, validate, monitor and manage projects, even in remote and conflict-affected areas,” Paje said.

Geotagging would also help in monitoring seedling growth and mortality for replacement with new seedlings in NGP sites.

Through the geotagging technology, Paje said the NGP accomplishments can now be easily tracked even by the general public who can access the program’s geotagging monitoring system through the agency’s web site (http://ngp.denr.gov.ph).

He said all accomplishment reports reaching the DENR Central Office are sworn to before a notary public, making the concerned regional officials accountable for the accuracy of their reports.

Paje said that from 2011 to 2013, some 683,069 hectares of the NGP sites, or 46 per cent of the 1.5-million-hectare target, have been planted, with more than 1.2 million jobs generated.

Apart from being a reforestation initiative, the NGP is also seen as a climate-change mitigation strategy as it seeks to enhance the country’s forest stock to absorb carbon dioxide, which is largely blamed for global warming.

The program is also designed to reduce poverty, providing alternative livelihood activities for marginalized upland and lowland households relating to seedling production, and care and maintenance of newly planted trees. Likewise, the NGP also seeks to promote biodiversity conservation through the rehabilitation of the country’s forests, which serve as natural habitat for various species of plants and animals.

 

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