BAGUIO City Representative Mark Go expressed support to Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s call for massive reforestation efforts to prevent severe flooding.
Dar, in his recent interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel, discussed adopting a holistic approach in controlling flooding during typhoons, combining engineering efforts with reforestation across the country’s major watersheds.
Dar called for reforestation in the wake of Typhoon Ulysses’ havoc across parts of the Cagayan Valley.
Go is the author of two tree-planting bills that await Senate approval: House Bill (HB) 6931, which mandates all graduating senior high school and college students to plant two trees as a graduation requirement, and HB 6930, also known as the “Family Tree-Planting Act” where parents will be required to plant two trees for every child born to them.
Once passed into law, the bills will add approximately five million trees and four million trees to the country’s annual forest stock, respectively.
According to Go, lawmakers can adopt parts of Dar’s proposal as amendments to the tree-planting bills. These include the identification of the country’s 18 largest watersheds as priority areas for reforestation, as well as prioritizing stock for certain seedlings, such as bamboo and fruit trees with economic viability.
In the current versions of both bills, the Environment department’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office will coordinate with the Agriculture department and other local government units to create a seedling bank with a ready source of seedlings appropriate to the location, climate and topography of the area.
Aside from recovering the country’s forest stock, the care and maintenance of newly planted trees may also become an alternative source of livelihood for communities and can help reduce poverty.
Go underscored the urgency to rehabilitate the environment as the country continues to find itself on the path of natural calamities, and that reforestation efforts must be made mandatory and part of civic responsibility.
Go said the Philippines loses 47,000 hectares of forest cover annually, the country’s first line of defense against natural disasters.
Go added the massive loss affects food and water security and leads to the destruction of lands, life, and local biodiversity.
The congressman said the aftermath of typhoon Ulysses is a serious wake-up call to prioritize massive reforestation efforts and environmental rehabilitation in pursuit of sustainable development and economic growth. (SunStar Baguio)