C. Luzon forest cover to expand in 10 years


CENTRAL LUZON’s forest cover is expected to increase from 589,495 ha to 728,995 ha in 10 years with the vigorous implementation of the twin policy on National Greening Program (NGP) and a total logging ban on natural and residual forests, environment authorities announced recently.

Maximo Dichoso, executive director of the regional Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said this 24% projected increase in forest cover within the decade is by far unprecedented, something that Pres. Benigno Aquino III can bestow to his home region when he finally steps down from Malacanang three years from now.

“More than 12,000 hectares of denuded forestlands, mangrove areas and watersheds throughout Central Luzon have been planted with 7.5 million assorted seedlings of forest and fruit trees since 2011,” he said, noting that these new forests are an addition to the region’s defense against natural calamities as typhoons and flooding. 

The DENR also aims to rehabilitate until 2022 at least 44,000 ha of denuded forestlands at the Pantabangan-Carranglan Watershed in Nueva Ecija through the 10-year Forest Management Program (FMP) supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Dichoso argued that while government revenues from forest charges in Central Luzon declined by P1.3 million last year as a result of the total log ban in natural and residual forests, forest cover is expected to almost double in 10 years. 

“This is more than what we bargained for, given the need for our forests to take a break from logging and for our natural resources to fully recover in the face of the real threats of global warming and climate change,” he added. 

Government revenues collected by the DENR out of forestry charges and land regulation services in Central Luzon declined by eight percent last year, official records showed.

Government fees and charges reached P54 million in 2010, about 80% of which came from forestry charges paid by logging concessions in Aurora.