Through the Department of Natural Resources’ (DENR) Enhanced National Greening Program (E-NGP), 129,000 hectares of denuded forest lands in Central Luzon has been successfully rehabilitated. 

According to the government organization’s Region 3 Office, E-GNP has been in operation since 2011 and has been strengthened through the years to better preserve and protect forest areas in the region of Luzon. 

“Preserving our forest cover and making more of our forest landscapes intact is an important component of the government’s climate change mitigation program,” Executive Director of DENR-3 Paquito Moreno Jr. said in a statement.

Moreno noted that the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop the greening initiative from achieving its goal. In fact, it managed to establish more than 3,200 hectares of bamboo plantations last year. And before the pandemic, it was able to create 14,000 hectares of bamboo plantations under the program. 

Although much has been achieved through the greening program, Moreno admits that more could be done if more members of the private sector extend a helping hand.

“This is where the private sector comes in by adopting established NGP (National Greening Program) plantations, where the company commits to continue the fight for a better tomorrow,” he said.

So far, 5,800 hectares of unfunded NGP areas have been adopted by different private organizations.

To better protect forested areas, the DENR forged partnerships with localities in upland areas, the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Philippine Army (PA). 

DENR said these collaborations will improve the monitoring and development of plantations in the region and will facilitate quick response to forest fires and reported illegal forest activities in NGP areas. 

Through E-NGP, the government has generated 154,055 job opportunities in the Central Luzon region, which focuses on plantation maintenance and protection activities.

“We see more jobs being provided to local communities including our indigenous people, especially at a time like this, when the economy is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic,” Moreno said.

E-NGP aims to rehabilitate and restore 1.5 million hectares of denuded lands and watersheds across the country. Its operations have been extended until 2028 under Executive Order No. 19, which seeks to reforest and develop degraded forests nationwide. 

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Image credit: DENR Central Luzon’s Official Facebook Page