Grow a million trees: Pact to bring back Bicol forest cover inked

LEGAZPI CITY-- In an effort to bring back the forest cover of Bicol and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change in the countryside, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and SM Foundation Inc. have signed a memorandum of agreement for massive greening program in the Bicol region.

The MOA for the project, dubbed as “Grow a Million Trees,” was signed by DENR Bicol Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales, DSWD Bicol Director Arnel Garcia and the SM Foundation Inc. (SMFI).

The project hopes to create healthier and cleaner surroundings and help provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to the people in the region.

It brings together the public and private sectors into a synergy in a move to help create a better world for the next generation.

Gonzalez said a tripartite agreement on greening program has been forged by and among them to plant and grow a million trees in the countryside to mitigate the effect of global warming that triggers climate change.

The Bicol Region is the most typhoon-prone area and home of the most active volcano in the country, he said.

The “Grow a Million Trees” program is originally a partnership between DENR and SMFI following EO No. 26 or the National Greening Program (NGP) that sought to promote sustainable development for poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

To strengthen the program, this year, the DSWD Bicol regional office entered into a covenant not only to intensify government’s program but to empower people’s organizations by providing values formation, team building workshops and entrepreneurial skills.

Garcia said that under the agreement, people’s organizations composed of Pantawid and non-Pantawid beneficiaries will plant and nurture the seedlings in the next three years.

The plantations are envisioned to be sources of livelihood for the PO members, as well.

“This is in support to the environment and capability program empowering the poor and the community. We actually are building and nurturing communities,” Garcia said.

The SM Foundation will also provide at least Php290,000 of funds for the various activities such as survey, mapping and planning, site preparation, seedling production, hauling of seedlings and maintenance.

The forest cover in Bicol is dwindling rapidly due to massive “kaingin” (slash-and-burn) farming and the uncontrolled cutting of trees. (PNA)  JBP/FGS/RBB/CBD/JSD

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