TACLOBAN CITY — A private firm will check thousands of hectares planted with trees in Eastern Visayas under the government’s “National Greening Program (NGP)”, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.

The DENR will tap a group of experts from the private sector to conduct the validation within this year for areas covered by the massive reforestation program launched in 2011, said DENR-NGP regional coordinator Ricardo Tomol.

“There have been validation activities in the past, but this is the first time that we will tap a third party to revisit NGP areas. They will see if how many planted trees survived and if reforestation really improved the lives of people in the community,” Tomol said on Wednesday.

Earlier, the DENR has entered a contract with a private firm to validate areas planted with mangroves, also a component of NGP. The next step is to expand the assessment to upland areas.

Aside from measuring the physical status of the project, the validation will also determine the effectiveness and efficiency of the project implementation; generate feedbacks, lessons, and experiences on the project implementation procedures; and provide recommendations as input to program designing and in aid of policy formulation.

The NGP is one of the flagship program of the DENR, which aims to reforest 1.5 million hectares of denuded lands nationwide from 2011-2016 for food security, poverty alleviation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and biodiversity conservation.

The project will continue until 2022 since there are still many open areas potential for reforestation activities, Tomol said.

In 2016, NGP planted 27,993 seedlings in 16,818 hectares. Last year, the project reforested 13,499 hectares by planting 6,578 seedlings. For 2018, the target is to plant in 9,218 hectares.
Planted areas are being maintained by people’s organizations through contract agreements with the DENR. Tomol said they expect a survival rate of 85 percent in the first six years after planting. (PNA)