Forest Restoration Program Launched

Mount Hamiguitan’s Pygmy Forest

City of Mati, Davao Oriental — The provincial government of Davao Oriental has launched its new forest restoration program called Nagkakaisang Lingkod-bayan ng Davao Oriental – Forest Landscape Restoration for Sustainable Development.

The province is host to a number of important biodiversity areas, among them is the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary which is the first and only World Heritage Site in Mindanao.

In his Executive Order Number 10, Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang says the program is “the provincial approach to ensure inclusive and sustainable development of the province’s forest resources and local communities in harmony with the National Greening Program and with the sustainable development goals.”

The governor says the new forest restoration  program is an “offshoot of the Nagkakaisang Lingkod-bayan ng Davao Oriental Barangay Outreach Caravan of the provincial government of Davao Oriental and is consistent with the United Nations Agenda 2030 with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals which, as a whole, are the basis for the Philippine Development Agenda 2017-2022 with the administration’s AmBisyon Natin 2040 expressed as the Matatag, Maginhawa, at Panatag na Buhay and the Davao Regional Development Plan 2017-2022 which also form the basis for the Provincial Development Framework of anchoring local development on a changed environment with the target of defeating poverty through inclusivity, particularly for the marginalized sectors of the society in the province, specifically the indigenous peoples residing in the upland and the Islamized Kaagan tribe in the lowland who are living in their respective Jamaah communities.”

The governor says that “considering trees as renewable resources that can be used for mitigative, adaptive and preventive purposes for climate change impacts, and as a sustainable source of income if properly managed, developing tree farms or plantations in production forest or in private alienable and disposable lands and ancestral lands is encouraged not only for ecological considerations but also to support the local wood requirements for construction and wood processing industries and as an environment-friendly livelihood source for the local communities, especially for areas where poverty incidence is high, such as in the ancestral lands in the uplands and in marginal areas of the lowlands and coastal zones, consistent with the… Davao Oriental Environment Code and of the lessons learned by the province being a replication area of the Philippine National REDD-Plus Strategy of the DENR-GIZ-LGU partnership and in harmony with the integration of the ASEAN in the same biological and ecological region for forest landscape restoration.”

Components of the program are the following:

Forestry-based Livelihood Promotion: A sub-program which provides support to qualified households in the establishment of tree plantations in production forest areas within ancestral lands and alienable and disposable areas in the lowlands.

Trees for Peace: A sub-program which focuses in conflict-affected areas whether in ancestral lands, forest lands or marginalized alienable and disposable areas that aim to provide alternative and profitable projects to qualified households and individuals in the establishment of tree plantations with food-for-work and technical assistance to veer the local people away from involvement in unlawful activities.

Assisted Natural Regeneration and Agro-forestry in Occupied Watershed Areas: a sub-program focusing in occupied watershed areas in the province promoting reforestation utilizing natural grown species and durable fruit tree as well as industrial tree species to promote water percolation in watershed recharge areas.

The forest restoration program covers all areas issued with any kind of Tenurial Instruments within Production Forest per the Municipal Forest Land Use Plan, and the production forest of CADT or ancestral land areas, and the private alienable and disposable lands particularly in areas of higher poverty incidence.

The people who will be qualified to participate or enroll in the program are the following:

  1. Individuals or family who legally owns a parcel of land.
  2. People’s Organizations who holds tenurial instruments.
  3. CADC and CADT holders.
  4. A household head certified by concerned Punong Barangay and city and municipal assessor as a landless person but has a duly notarized consent from a legitimate landowner.
  5. Individuals or family living in conflict areas or areas identified as infested or influenced by terror groups, who will commit to enrol in the Trees-for-Peace scheme.

 

Among the support to be provided by the government to the program beneficiaries are: Support of the DENR by issuing tree cutting permits, transport and marketing assistance; the establishment of on-site nursery, plantation management, soil and water conservation measures, financial and technical support in the first two years for qualified participants; technical support in the processing of loans from banks; enhancement of ecological and aesthetic value and amenities in the project sites; support for seedlings and other food crops and farm animals in agro-forestry; capability enhancement in nursery operation, seeds, seedlings, wildlings collection and propagation; and support to non-timber-based livelihood sourcing in forestland, ancestral land and occupied watershed areas.

The governor, however, called on all local government units to integrate environmental plans in the local government plans. He says all local government units must formulate environmental codes and strengthen their capacities on biodiversity management, and increase the level of awareness of the local communities on the importance of conserving our biodiversity. He emphasized that mechanisms for multi-sectoral government agencies and local government cooperation and partnership must be strengthened, and laws must be enforced properly and violators must be prosecuted.

Davao Oriental is part of the Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridor. Of the eleven NIPAS-covered protected areas in the region, six are located in Davao Oriental. 61 percent of the province’s land area is declared forestland.

“Best practices should be properly documented and replicated. Let us commit to raise the discourse on biodiversity conservation in local governance to a higher level, and to develop a more creative and sustained campaign for sustainable biodiversity management,” says Governor Dayanghirang. By Ferdinand Zuasola

 

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