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PIA Press Release
Thursday, January 12, 2012


ARMM to undertake reforestation of 2,500 hectares forestland

by CT Apelacio

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Jan 12 (PIA) -- Massive reforestation activities in the five provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is in the offing after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) committed a financial assistance of P49.6 million.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje himself signed an agreement with ARMM newly-installed acting governor Mujiv Hataman Monday.

The fund will be used to reforest some “2,500 hectares of denuded and open forestland” in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Basilan.

Aside from the fund allocation, DENR will also provide technical assistance to ARMM.

The joint collaboration is under DENR’s National Greening Program (NGP), which envisions the planting of 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5 million hectares by 2016.

The program started in 2011 pursuant to Executive Order No. 26 signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Paje believed that the program will impact on the region’s “social and economic challenges” toward an effective and improved ecological governance.

Paje also attributed the venture to President Aquino’s order to assist ARMM in the “management” of its lush forest reserve which is touted still as its premier natural source of wealth to this day.

Taking on the experiences of other regions recently ravaged by Tropical storm Sendong, Hataman said he considered the NGP as “major tool to address illegal logging in ARMM.”

He said he can use the program to deviate the interest of his upland constituents from illegal logging activities since it “offers alternative livelihood to forest-based communities.”

Hataman attributed, however, the “lack of livelihood opportunities in the uplands” as the main reason why many of his constituents there have been lured into joining the illegal practice.

The program, according to him will be implemented first in the upland as priority areas.

Hataman also vowed to comply with all the guidelines and policies involving the joint venture, saying he will do his best to implement what is expected of him as the newly local chief executive.

To ensure smooth and accurate implementation of NGP, DENR personnel, from time to time, shall undertake monitoring and evaluation of ARMM’s implementation of the program as well as its management and utilization of funds. (CTA/PIA General Santos City)

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