THE government will spend next year around P6.3 billion for the National Greening Program (NGP), the Aquino administration’s flagship reforestation program.
Of the total, P3.84 billion will be spent for site maintenance and protection of previous year’s planting activities and site preparation and mobilization. Around P2.48 billion are to be spent for seedling production and planting activities in new areas.
Of the P6.3 billion, P159 million was set aside for local government units (LGUs) deemed to have passed the requirements of “good financial housekeeping,” documents from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.
Next year’s NGP budget is lower by more than P800 million from its P7.2-billion budget for 2015.
The DENR has originally proposed a P10.19-billion budget next year, but some of the budget was realigned for other programs, including solid-waste management and Manila Bay rehabilitation.
With the huge budget cut, NGP-implementing agencies, mainly the DENR, may have to reevaluate its goals and revisit strategies to achieve its target.
The NGP’s target next year is to reforest the remaining 300,000 hectares of the 1.5 million hectares reforestation target from 2010 to 2016.
Of the NGP’s over-all target of 1.5 million hectares, around 1.29 million hectares have, so far, been successfully planted with around 794 million assorted native, industrial, and fruit-bearing trees, according to the DENR’s Forest Management Bureau.
According to the DENR, the previous year’s accomplishments exceeding the annual targets leave the government just around 2.1 million hectares for it to hit the NGP’s overall target.
The DENR has been allocated a budget of P80 million next year for the implementation of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. The same amount has been allocated for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
It is the first time that budgets have been allocated for solid-waste management and the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
The DENR will also receive P30 million from the Integrated Protected Areas Fund (Ipaf). Seventy-five percent of the Ipaf, the total revenues generated by various Protected Areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System, now becomes part of the revolving fund of the concerned PAs by virtue of the Ipaf automatic retention law.
The DENR, the lead implementing agency of the NGP, was granted a total budget of 24.8 billion to finance its operation next year, up by P1.5 billion compared to the current year’s P23.3-billion budget.
The DENR’s budget for the decades remain below 1 percent of national budget.
The Philippines is one of 17 mega-diverse countries in the world but is also in the list of the 34 hottest biodiversity hot spots because of the rapid rate of biodiversity loss as a result of massive habitat destruction.
Of the country’s 15 million hectares of land classified as forest land, only around 6.8 million hectares are actually covered with trees, based on the 2010 Philippine Forestry Statistics report.
Launched in the last quarter of 2010, the NGP has increased the country’s forest cover to 8 million hectares, according to Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje.
Because of the success of the program, President Aquino signed Executive Order 93, expanding the coverage of the NGP to cover the remaining 7.1 million hectares of open, degraded and denuded forest through massive tree-planting, consistent with the revised forestry master plan 2015-2028, which carries a hefty sum of P123 billion, to further increase the country’s forest cover by 3 million hectares in the next 13 years.