It’s time for tree planting

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Thursday, July 3, 2014


RAINY season is the best time for tree planting. Seedlings require less maintenance. Many groups have taken advantage of the rains and conducted their tree planting activities. Some groups timed their activity last June 25, the date of the old Arbor Day celebration. This old tree planting day was set by virtue of Proclamation No. 643 signed President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004.

A new Arbor Day law has already superseded Presidential Proclamation No. 643. Republic Act 10176, or "An Act Reviving the Observance of Arbor Day by Authorizing the Local Government Units the Responsibilities for Celebrating the Day for Tree Planting as an Annual Event" was signed by President Aquino in September, 2012.

With the new law, Arbor Day will no longer be celebrated simultaneously. Instead, RA 10176 mandates all local government units (LGUs) - provinces, cities and municipalities with their component barangays – to proclaim their own Arbor Day at an appropriate fixed date every calendar year. LGU’s are given the flexibility in planning and implementing tree planting programs according to local conditions and budgetary limitations.

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The law says that the local Arbor Day designated by each LGU shall be declared as a public working holiday in order to ensure the participation of the different sectors of society. The local sanggunian shall provide for the allocation of resources to implement the activities. In the case of Mabalacat City, I designated the first Saturday of July as Mabalacat’s Arbor Day in the City’s Environment Code. The Code is now on second reading in the City Council.

The new Arbor Day law makes tree planting mandatory. All able-bodied citizens of the Philippines, who are at least twelve (12) years of age, are required to plant at least one (1) tree every year. The use of endemic or indigenous species is encouraged. In Mabalacat City, we will plant the balacat tree for sure.

The law states that tree planting activities shall be done in public school grounds, gardens or other available areas within the school premises, idle or vacant public lands, public parks in urban and rural areas and private schools, parks and lands with the consent of the owner. To ensure the survival of trees, the law mandates barangay officials and deputized nongovernmental organizations to be responsible for the maintenance of the trees.

One problem for tree planters, especially those in urbanized areas, is the lack of tree planting sites. Since this will be an annual event, the sites mentioned in RA 10176 may be filled up in a few years. In this case, tree planters may coordinate with the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the DENR. They have identified sites for tree planting in relation to the government’s National Greening Program (NGP).

Under the NGP, all seedlings planted are closely monitored by the DENR to make sure they survive.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 04, 2014.

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