Gov. Marcos forges ties with PENRO, creates local greening program

In her bid to restore the primary watersheds of the province, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte through Gov. Imee R. Marcos forged ties recently with the DENR- Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office to create a local greening project.

Dubbed as PGIN Greening Program: Pasantaken ti Ilocos Norte (Beautify the North), the localized reforestation program is tied- up with the National Greening Program (NGP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources which was launched in 2010.

According to PENR Officer Juan P. de los Reyes, Jr., Governor Marcos sees the vital role of reforestation in reviving the denuded forests and critical watersheds, and the economic impact of investing in greening project especially in Ilocos Norte.

“The siltation of major rivers as an effect of incessant illegal forest activities has brought flooding and damages to properties in the province in recent years. These and other alarming conditions are the primary considerations that the governor has considered in implementing the program,” de los Reyes said.

The greening program has a two fold purpose to which de los Reyes pointed that the project will fully benefit the environment and economic spheres of Ilocos Norte.

First, de los Reyes revealed that the reforestation partnership will lead to a sustainable development for the protection, conservation, and management of the environment and natural resources for the present and future generations.

Accordingly, the secondary intention of the project is to generate livelihood and business in the grassroots level where an enterprise will be formed for the production of seedlings and vermiculture (organic fertilizer) making targeting the demand in the national market.

The provincial government has allocated PhP25 million to augment the NGP, specifically earmarked in critical watershed and flood- prone areas in the eastern and southern parts of Ilocos Norte. On top of the 25 million, a congressional fund was also allocated to the project in the amount of PhP5 million.

“The PGIN through the initiative of Gov. Marcos is in full coordination with PENRO and has allocated PhP12.5 million f0r CY 2013. In fact, necessary preparations and planting has already started this September and October where the governor allocated PhP1.7 million for the open access area and PhP700, 000. 00 for integrated social forestry (ISF) covering 156 hectares and 97 hectares respectively within the eastern watershed areas in Solsona and Dingras Ilocos Norte,” de los Reyes added.

These funds however are on top of the PENRO- Ilocos Norte’s NGP 2012 fund in the amount of PhP17 million targeting 3, 800 hectares already planted/developed by the end of this year.

In her state of the province address (SOPA) last July, Gov. Marcos conveyed her vision of sustainable and exclusive development for the province through the creation of Task Force Trabaho. The program framework of Pasantaken ti Ilocos Norte discloses that Barangay Ranger Officers (BRO) will be hired for the protection and maintenance of the areas that are planted this year particularly in the watershed and open access (untenured) areas.

The BROs under the framework will receive PhP3, 000.00 monthly allowances inclusive of communication stipend worth PhP300.00, the budget of which, coming from the millennium development goals (MDG) fund of the provincial government.

“This is an innovation initiated both by the provincial government and PENRO- Ilocos Norte. It is an innovation mainly because of the objectives of the project which makes it a bit different from other tie- up projects of LGU and the national government. Imagine a partnership that directly benefit the environment and at the same time gives livelihood to the people” de los Reyes quipped.

As such, the localized greening program aims to train the BROs in seedling collection for identified seed production areas, propagation, and production where the same will be sold to the national government for the NGP 2013 and onwards. In doing so, the province will be self- sufficient on seedlings and that the qualities are assured compared to those transported seedlings which are damaged due to transportation from other provinces.

“The NGP’s target is to plant at least 6 billion trees by 2016 thus, the demand of tree seedlings is increasing and seedling production is more likely a lucrative venture for the provincial government of Ilocos Norte,” de los Reyes said. (DENR- PENRO- Ilocos Norte)