GOING beyond compliance in implementing responsible and sustainable mining operations, key players in the Philippine nickel industry have planted an estimated 4.2 million trees to date in the Caraga region and in Palawan.
The Philippine Nickel Industry Association (PNIA), through its seven member-companies, has upped its greening efforts in recent years as part of ongoing progressive rehabilitation and reforestation in their respective mining areas.
“Our member-companies have planted more than we have mined. In fact, our ‘green’ footprint is larger than our mining footprint in terms of area. Our aggregate reforestation effort comes up to a total of about 2,000 hectares planted to date,” said Charmaine Olea-Capili, PNIA executive director, citing a forest density of about 2,100 trees per hectare -- which is much higher than the country’s National Greening Program.
A variety of indigenous and endemic tree and grass species have been successfully planted since the start of rehabilitation efforts. These include Agoho, Mahogany, giant bamboo, Tiger Kamagong, Tiga, Ipil, Narra, and Ironwood, as well as fruit-bearing trees like Calamansi, Rambutan, Cashew, Jackfruit, and Cacao, among others. Cash crops such as rubber, coffee, vegetables, and herbal plants are also grown in the mine sites’ respective nurseries.
Apart from providing employment to residents and to the indigenous community, the program also allows the companies to help their respective host communities as seedlings can be donated to the community in support of various greening initiatives. This has given birth to an emerging downstream industry, agro-forestry, which also focuses on the community’s livelihood beyond mining.
The intensified reforestation program demonstrates PNIA members’ commitment and contributions to the government’s “National Greening Program” or the NGP, which aims to revegetate some 1.2 million hectares of “unproductive, denuded, and degraded” forest land nationwide from 2017-2022.
“Much effort has been poured into rehabilitation because what has been planted will outlast the mine itself. This is for the community and for the generations to come, long after the mines have concluded their operations,” said Capili.
Meanwhile, PNIA is also set to undertake a unified effort to implement a Bamboo Plantation and Livelihood Project. The unique properties of bamboo complements on-going rehabilitation and reforestation efforts, provides livelihood opportunities and helps improve community disaster preparedness.
In addition, the PNIA focuses on other environmental preservation initiatives such as wildlife conservation, marine protection, rubber plantations, tilapia production, and other activities that improve the environment.
Organized in 2012 as non-stock non-profit organization, the PNIA is composed of Platinum Group Metals Corporation, CTP Construction and Mining Corporation, Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation, Carascal Nickel Corporation, DMCI Mining Corporation, Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation, and TVIRD’s Agata Mining Ventures Incorporated. (PR)