DESPITE reforestation efforts, the forest cover in Cordillera has been cut by half as a result of urban incursion.

Augusto Lagon, the Department of Environment Natural Resources’ Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services in Cordillera, has raised the alarm, saying: "The challenge for us every year is the increase in population and how we are going to manage it."

"We need a balance in the use of lands. Forests should remain as forests, those alienable and disposable should be carefully planned based on their purpose through an effective land use planning," Lagon said.

Contributing to the destruction of forests are natural disasters and forest fires, and the problem is aggravated by the intrusion of settlers.

The DENR’s target is to increase by 13 percent Cordillera’s forest cover through the implementation of the National Greening Program in 7,234 sites covering 102,559 hectares.

Under the program, tree seedlings were planted in a total of 60,952 hectares last year.

This year, the target is 30,035 hectares and 14,658 hectares in 2016 at the close of the program.

Still, the reforestation efforts fall short because of forest management issues.

Lagon stressed the need to survey all alienable and disposable lands so they could be classified according to use, such as residential, agricultural or agro-forestry.