DENR-AFAB earmarks P3.2M to reforest Mariveles watershed

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TOP OFFICIALS of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here and the Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) will jointly allocate some P3.2 million to reforest an initial 130 hectares of the Mariveles watershed to boost the water potential of the Freeport Area of Bataan (FAB) dam.
 
Aside from the DENR and AFAB, officials of the Export Processing Zone Chamber of Exporters and Manufacturing, Inc. (EPZCEM) also committed to support the 25-year reforestation program to ensure the FAB dam could supply the water requirement of locators and manufacturers inside the 1,700-hectare Freeport.
 
DENR regional director Maximo Dichoso and AFAB Chairman and Administrator Deogracias Custodio executed recently a 25-year Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) for the reforestation program that would also include provisions for survey and delineation, watershed characterization, vulnerability assessment, preparation of comprehensive development management plan, forest protection and trainings, and cost-sharing agreements on nursery establishment, seedling production, site preparation, and survey mapping of the areas to be reforested.
 
“This is a joint initiative of the AFAB, DENR and EPZCEM to help save and protect our environment while safeguarding the ability of the FAB dam to supply water to the entire Freeport for years to come,” said Custodio.
 
The FAB dam has a rated capacity of 10.9 million cubic meters of water and is fed by the Mariveles watershed.
 
Top company executives and staff from the participating FAB companies led by EPZCEM President Pompil Corsame also planted about 600 narra trees after the MoA signing as part of the initial activities of the reforestation program, reported Samuel Danganan, newly-installed DENR Bataan Provincial Officer.
 
The Freeport Area of Bataan boasts of a well protected watershed, lovely coastline and pristine beaches, mountain ranges and flat lands suitable for world-class ecotourism programs.
 
Nature lovers can go mountain climbing to Tarak Peak (Tarak Climb) or take a dip in the white sand beaches of Mariveles. Good roads and rolling hills provide an excellent backdrop and poise a challenge for cycling and marathon aficionados who visit during the regular Camaya Aquathlon and Padyakan festivals.
 
The historic town of Mariveles is also the “Ground Zero” for the infamous 112-kilometer “Death March” during World War II where more than 10,000 Filipino and American soldiers died of hunger, thirst, and exhaustion when forced to march from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac by their Japanese captors.
 
The DENR and the Philippine Department of the American Legion, an organization of war veterans, recently vowed to join hands in the greening of the Death March trail as part of the urban greening enrolled under Pres. Aquino’s National Greening Program (NGP).