LA TRINIDAD, Benguet, Philippines—The threat of global warming has added a new dimension to renewed efforts of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to save the Cordillera’s declining forest cover.
Samuel Peñafiel, DENR regional director, said the department this year would pursue a massive reforestation in the region to improve its forest cover and fight the effects of climate change.
“Our tasks have doubled. We will plant more trees to save the forests on the ground and to protect the air above,” he said.
He said this year’s massive tree planting would take off from the success of last year’s Green Philippine Highways program that saw the planting of trees along major roads in the Cordillera and other parts of the country.
A total of 17,781 people and groups in the region participated in the program and planted 108,190 different species of tree seedlings and ornamental plants.
Peñafiel said the program would be expanded to cover all forests, watersheds, communal forests, protected parks and other areas that need to be rehabilitated.
The DENR and the National Irrigation Administration on Friday signed an agreement for a joint effort to “regreen” the region’s forests and watershed resources.
The Cordillera has 1.52 million hectares of forestland. It also hosts the four major river systems—Chico, Agno, Magat and Abra—that provide water to several dams in lowland provinces.
Peñafiel said trees play a crucial role against global warming.
“Trees absorb a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere particularly during their growing years,” he said.
The challenge is to keep Cordillera’s forests green to maintain ecological balance and at the same time help ward off the consequences of global warming, he said.
He said the program in the region would include the propagation of indigenous tree species that, he noted, are also slowly becoming extinct.
Among them, he said, are gmelina, Aurecurios reformis, narek, molave, mahogany, sangilo and ipil-ipil which are endemic to the region.
He said planting these indigenous species could help prolong the life of Cordillera’s forests.