Philippines Reforestation to Reach 1 Million Hectare Milestone After Logging Ban Print
Friday, 30 May 2014 02:06

By Dominic G. Diongson & Vita A.D. Busyra on 12:44 pm May 06, 2014

[Updated at 9:55 p.m. on Tuesday, May 6, 2014]

Jakarta. The Philippine government said on Tuesday that it would continue its tree planting efforts this year, bringing the nation’s total reforested area to more than 1 million hectares since a 2011 logging ban, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.

Between 2011 and 2013, the nation planted 683,089 hectares, which was equivalent to the total of what had been planted in the previous 23 years, said Demetrio Ignacio, the undersecretary of the Philippines’ department of environment and natural resources. He spoke at the Forests Asia Summit 2014 conference in Jakarta on Tuesday morning.

This year, the Philippines said it would plant 200 million trees covering 400,000 hectares, he said, and the reforestation program has employed more than 168,000 in upland and rural communities.

The Philippines in the past few decades has experienced a sharp reduction of its forested area, as land was cleared for timber and for cultivating crops such as sugar and rice.

Forested areas currently cover 7.2 million hectares, or 24 percent of the country’s total land area, making it one of the nations in Southeast Asia with the lowest forest coverage, Ignacio said.

The government hoped to plant 1.5 billion trees and to increase the area of forested coverage to 30 percent of total land area with this reforestation program, the undersecretary said. The nation imposed a logging ban in 2011 which has resulted in an 84 percent reduction in so-called “hot spots,” or areas of illegal logging, to 31, with the goal of eliminating the practice entirely, he said.

“We have done much in our reforestation, but there is still much more to be done,” Ignacio said.

He said that the forests should absorb 38 million tons of carbon per year, helping to reduce the rise in emissions of carbon dioxide that has affected the planet’s climate.

“We are one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impact of climate change,” Ignacio said, noting last year’s typhoon that wreaked havoc in parts of the central Philippines.

As part of its efforts in combating climate change, Brunei said that it was committed in continuing to offer its tropical rainforest for research.

The nation may be small, said Pehin Dato Yahya Bakar, Brunei’s minister of industry and primary resources, but its land area is 75 percent covered by trees because of a law on forest protection. He also said that he was committed in limiting his country’s agricultural footprint to 1 percent of land area while working to improve yields so that it could achieve greater food security.

A nation of more than 400,000 people, Brunei has a land area of 5,765 square kilometers. By comparison, the Jakarta metropolitan region covers 7,700 square kilometers and has a population of more than 15 million people.

The Bogor-based Center for International Forestry Research is organizing the two-day conference, which ends on Tuesday. It brings together government officials, business executives, civil society leaders, development experts and some of the world’s top scientists.

BeritaSatu Media Holdings, with which the Jakarta Globe is affiliated, is a media partner of the Forests Asia Summit.

Source: theJakartaGlobe