Incentives to reforest ancestral lands pushed

BENGUET Congressman Ronald Cosalan is pushing for incentives to ancestral land owners who maintain forest areas and promote substantial tree planting activities within their claims.

In a bid to support the national campaign for reforestation in the country, the Benguet solon wants to ensure the participation of all ancestral land owners through a reward system.

Cosalan said the reforestation program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources would be intensified if forested areas within ancestral lands will be embraced within the proposed bill.

The lawmaker added Cordillera will greatly benefit from the proposed cash grants considering many of the forest in the region are within ancestral land areas.

"If this bill will push through, it will greatly encourage our fellow Cordillerans to protect and sustain their lands with trees, apart from benefiting from the cash grants provided within the bill," Cosalan said.

Cosalan said apart from focusing on conserving and re-greening public lands, the national government should consider extending their efforts to reach the participation of ancestral land claimants particularly the indigenous communities.

"It is time the governmentís efforts in forest conservation and reforestation be likewise focused and directed to these ancestral lands and privately owned lands," he added.

Cosalan cited billions of funds allocated in programs like the National Greening Program, thus inclusion of incentives to owners of private and ancestral lands could encourage the protection and preservation of the forests.

The lawmaker added the proposed bill is deemed to be effective as many of the IP communities has been practicing the protection of woodlands up to this date.

Apart from the reward system, exemption from real property taxes would also be incorporated as the aid for ancestral land owners not to pay huge toll would help them maintain and preserve their lands.
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