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Greening program, tree farming in Surigao.

This has reference to the article titled Paradise lost for very rare PH birds (Front Page, 10/7/15). We appreciate the factual description of the birds' habitat in Bislig, Surigao del Sur, as well as the history of logging that started in the 1950s. However, please allow us to clarify some facts.

Tree farming in this part of Surigao is a well-established business practice among the local people in the area. That's why you can see along the road log bolts and wooden planks ready for loading and delivery to several wood processing facilities as far as Cagayan de Oro. Please note, however, that the planks come from planted trees like acacia mangium or albizzia falcataria. Locally called falcatathat, this species can be harvested in five years' time. Backyard tree plantation and tree farming are a lucrative business as this species, when processed, can be exported to Taiwan and China.

Enterprising locals gather the stumps and branches (including the waste materials) of acacia mangium and convert them which they sell at the local market.

There is very limited employment opportunity in the area which has become a hotbed of insurgency that somehow makes law enforcement a challenge. However in order to establish our presence in Bislig, we have hired and deployed 27 Bantay Gubat, most of them locals who have been trained and deputized to do forest protection and wildlife enforcement under the direct supervision of our Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Mangagoy.

The long years of unsustainable logging practices is the very reason our government implemented Executive Order No. 23 in 2011. The order imposed a total ban in the harvesting of naturally growing trees in natural and residual forests nationwide; it provided as well a window for our natural forests to regenerate and expand.

Simultaneously, we are implementing EO 26 or the National Greening Program (NGP), which is designed to rehabilitate our degraded forests and at the same time provide livelihood opportunities to our people in the upland. In fact, for Bislig alone we have awarded NGP development contracts (covering around 1,843 hectares) to our Manobo brothers under Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title 70. The lands have been planted with albizzia falcataria. Please note that the lands are also covered by ancestral domain claims of our Manobo brothers.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Oct 17, 2015
Words:384
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