UP frat plants 100,000 trees
MANILA, Philippines—The government’s National Greening Program (NGP) on Saturday got a major boost as hundreds of volunteers mobilized by the University of the Philippines’ Beta Sigma Fraternity planted more than 100,000 trees across the country.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala lauded their efforts and joined the massive planting initiative.
Early Saturday morning, the volunteers fanned out in the wooded area along UP’s University Avenue to dig holes and plant tree seedlings and saplings.
This was replicated at 54 sites outside the capital, thanks to the fraternity which organized the activity around the country to mark its 55th anniversary.
“We are planting 170,000 seedlings and there are more coming,” project chair Rene “Butch” Madarang said in a brief program. He said the activity was part of the frat’s advocacy on the environment and in response to the call of Paje, himself a Beta Sigman.
Under the NGP, the government aims to plant 1.5-billion trees on 1.5-million hectares of forest land by 2016, the year President Aquino steps down from office. The idea is to reforest a portion of the 8.2-million hectares of forests that have been denuded by years of illegal logging.
If the goal is achieved, the Aquino administration would surpass the 1.2-million hectares reforested during the five previous administrations from 1960 to 2010, according to Paje.
“We will accomplish in six years what was accomplished in 50 years,” he told the crowd that included UP Diliman Chancellor Caesar Saloma, agrarian reform officers, Beta Sigma officials, Rotarians, students and employees, among other volunteers.
“By the end of his term, there would be more forested lands than denuded ones,” he said in a later interview.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources planted 90-million trees in 128,000 hectares on 2011, and there’s a big possibility the area for reforestation could expand to two-million hectares. This year, the government is targeting 200,000 hectares, he said.
“We’ll surpass it once the private sector comes in. By 2013 the industrial tree plantation component comes in. From them on, it will pick up. It will cater to industries and there will be massive requirements,” he said.
Of the 90-million trees planted last year, 20 million came from the private sector. TJ Burgonio
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