By Jennifer Catan-Tilos
NEGROS ORIENTAL (PIA) – Close to 400,000 trees were planted in 470 hectares in Negros Island last year as Energy Development Corporation (EDC) embarked on massive forest restoration with its ‘10 million trees in10 years for a Greener Negros’ movement.
EDC recently led the finalization of commitments to achieve the vision of growing back the forests of the island in the next ten years with local partner-agencies in Negros Oriental.
Former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Prof. Marlo Mendoza presented a proposed roadmap and strategies to realize the planting, growing and protecting the 10M native trees in the next ten years as the remaining 403,444 hectares of lands needed to be restored.
It is noted that out of 478,402 hectares of forestlands on Negros Island, only 16% or 74,958 hectares remain covered with forest in 2010.
Prof. Mendoza presented how the island suffered from deforestation due to commercial logging, land conversion or sugar cane plantations, Kaingin or slash and burn, and upland migration
With the movement, EDC’s various partners have committed to protect the environment and restore the forest.
“To ensure the success of this greening program, a roadmap and strategies need to be employed with the various partners in a Bayanihan plantation, adopt-a-plantation, and EDC’s BINHI greening legacy,” said Mendoza.
However, he said stable watersheds have to be established, protect the island’s unique biodiversity, and develop resilient communities and ecosystems that are able to adapt to climate change impacts.
For the past four months after the ‘10M in 10’ launched in 2015, EDC has established 470 hectares planted with 375,556 seedlings, 5,000 mangrove propagules planted in Tanjay City led by Negros Oriental Association of Corps Commanders, established website and Facebook page to help disseminate faster and valuable information about the movement, among other activities.
The movement is conceptualized to go beyond tree planting and includes maintenance and management of forests which is also vital in EDC’s operation to provide clean geothermal power for decades to come.
When the company first set foot in Negros Island in the 80’s, forest cover was at a critical 4%, prodding EDC to embark on a massive environment program that by 2008, a total of 2,300 hectares all over Negros has been reforested to help reverse forest loss.
That same year, BINHI greening legacy was launched with a more purposeful science-based approach to reforest 10,000 hectares in ten years and since then has been recognized as having revolutionized corporate greening programs and has converted kaingeros into forest stewards. (rmn/jct/PIA7-Negros Oriental/This article was first published at PIA website on Feb. 16, 2016)