Some 400 officials and employees from various government agencies led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) took a 2-kilometer hike up the hills of Ipo watershed in Norzagaray, Bulacan Saturday to plant 2,000 seedlings.
DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the Ipo tree planting activity signals the start of the massive reforestation program of the government in compliance with Executive Order No. 26 declaring the implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP) as a government priority.
“Today is the right time to plant. The high precipitation we are currently experiencing in almost all parts of the country presents a very good opportunity for everybody to go out and plant trees,” Paje said. He also stressed that the probability of the seedlings to survive and grow to maturity under such condition is also very high.
Last week, Secretary Paje witnessed the planting of some 20,000 seedlings of various species by more than 1,500 volunteers led by Quezon 2nd District Representative Irvin Alcala at the foot of Mt. Banahaw in Brgy. Bogon in Sariaya, Quezon. Paje said the reforestation of Mt. Banahaw forms part of the NGP, which seeks to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares in six-year period of the Aquino administration.
According to Paje, the Ipo tree planting activity also served as an avenue for the employees from the convergence agencies, DENR, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to comply with Executive Order No. 26 which, aside from declaring NGP as a priority government program, it also requires all officials and employees of the government, including government owned and controlled corporations, to plant at least 10 seedlings per year.
Top government officials visible in the tree planting are DENR Undersecretaries Demetrio Ignacio, Ernesto Adobo, Analiza Rebuelta – Teh, DAR Undersecretary Rosalina Bistoyong, DENR Assistant Secretaries Marlo Mendoza and Daniel Nicer, DENR Directors Ricardo Calderon, Juan Rana, Edna Juan, William Ragos, Atty. Wilfredo Saraos, Atty Emilio David, Sofio Quintana, Romeo Verzosa, DA Dir Andrew Villacorta, and PENRO Ely Alberto.
Also present in the tree planting was Norzagaray Councilor Bonzo Santos while Ms Gina Lopez of ABS CBN was represented by Dave Pardo. Other agencies present were Maynilad Water Services, Manila Water, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine Army and scores of employees from the cited government agencies and private institutions.
The presidential order also enjoins the private sector and other stakeholders to undertake parallel greening activities in consonance with NGP. There are 8 million hectares of open, denuded and degraded lands throughout the country which are in need of immediate rehabilitation, according to Paje.
Around 2,000 seedlings, composed mostly of narra (Pterocarpus indicus) and kupang (Parkia timoriana), were planted in Bgy. San Mateo in Norzagaray, Bulacan during the tree planting activity, which was also participated by some 75 employees from the Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad.
Paje, a licensed forester, said narra, the national tree, is indigenous to the Philippines, although it is also known to thrive well in some parts of Southeast Asia. It is a large tree that can grow to as high as 100 feet. Its lush crown of leaves makes it ideal as a shade tree in open spaces. It is highly-prized for its durable, rose-scented wood, with colors ranging from yellow to red. It is usually used in the manufacture of high quality furniture like beds, cabinets, chairs and tables.
Kupang (Parkia timoriana), is also an ideal reforestation species, according to Paje. Aside from its being fast-growing, it is known as an “all weather species” as it is both sun-loving and shade-tolerant. As a leguminous tree, kupang has the ability to fix nitrogen requirements with the help of soil bacteria known as “rhizobium.”
The Ipo watershed is home to the Ipo Dam which serves as the transbasin and reservoir for water coming from Angat watershed and those coming from Ipo watershed itself. The water is then released to La Mesa Dam for processing into potable water for distribution to Metro Manila residents. Ayda Zoleta, PAO-DENR