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Government seeks P5.77B for NGP next year, P251M for national forest protection

THE government is eying a budget allocation of P5.77 billion for the government’s ambitious National Greening Program (NGP) for 2013 to promote “rapid, inclusive and sustained economic growth” and enhance the “integrity of the environment.” 

The plan of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was made public during a consultation meeting with members of the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) led by Social Watch Philippines last week.

During the consultation meeting organized by the ABI’s Environment Cluster led by the La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga), officials of the DENR presented its 2013 budget proposal with the hope of gathering inputs from members of civil society. 

Now on its third year of implementation, the reforestation program aims to plant a total of 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of open, degraded and denuded forests by 2016.

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said the NGP is on track. In fact, the agency exceeded its target as of June 2012. 

The government’s target this year is to reforest 200,000 hectares.

Under the 2013 National Expenditure Program (NEP) prepared by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the DENR plans to plant 300,000 hectares of denuded forests with indigenous and fruit-bearing trees by the end of next year.  To achieve this, the government plans to employ 1,200 environmental and natural resources extension officers to ensure the smooth implementation of the program. 

The DENR and its partner-nongovernmental organizations and institutions are continuously producing planting materials in preparation for the massive tree-planting activities during the second half of the year, during the rainy season, to ensure at least an 80-percent survival rate of the transplanted seedlings in the forests.

The program, jointly being implemented by the DENR, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), also aims to fight hunger and poverty in the countryside through the creation of “green jobs” and livelihood opportunities in upland areas by tapping communities as forest stewards.

As indicated in the 2013 NEP submitted to Congress for approval by Malacañang on Tuesday, the P5.77-billion budget for the NGP will be used partially for the production of planting materials and the establishment of more clonal nurseries.

A total of 33 clonal nurseries are being targeted.

Also, the DENR plans to produce 16 seed production areas in each of the 16 regions. 

Toward the production of mycorrhiza, the fertilizer of choice for the NGP, the DENR plans to establish three production areas.

To enforce Executive Order 23 signed by President Aquino on February 1, 2012, the DENR is seeking a P251-million budget for forest protection.  This includes the protection of 4.7 million hectares of untenured forestland; hiring of 3,113 “Bantay Gubat” volunteers; and identification of illegal-logging hotspots by the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force.

The budget will also be used to finance the demarcation of 1,900 kilometers of forests within five protected areas, and the delineation of 12 protected areas covering 3,574 kilometers.

The DENR is also planning to push for and provide support for the development of forest-land use plan and targets the completion by 127 municipalities all over the country. 

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