DENR  LAUNCHES  PROGRAM  TO  PLANT  20  MILLION  TREES

MANILA,
JUNE 6, 2007
 (BULLETIN) Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes has launched a program to plant 20 million trees in an effort to restore the country’s forest cover that had been wiped out by about 13 million hectares since 1900.

On the occasion of World Environment Day last Monday, Reyes signed a memorandum of agreement with the Green Army Network Foundation to plant 20 million tree seedlings from July to September this year throughout the country under what was dubbed as the "Trees for Life" project.

The ceremony was held at the front lawn of the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex in Pasay City with Reyes signing the MOA for the DENR and Edgar Chua signing for the Green Army Foundation as its president.

In his speech, Reyes disclosed that in 1900, the Philippines had a forest cover of 21 million hectares. By 1987, the forest cover had dwindled "dramatically" to only 5.4 million hectares. But through persistent reforestation efforts, the forest cover grew to 7.2 million hectares by 2004.

"We still have a long way to go as we need to do more than what we have been exerting," said Reyes, who has made tree planting a focus of his environmental program.

"Our reforestation projection of 7.8 million hectares until 2008 under the Green Philippines Program is encouraging."

Reyes recalled that last year the DENR also worked with the Green Army on the Green Philippines Highway Project which resulted in the planting of 800,000 tree saplings on major highways from Aparri to Jolo. He showed a certificate from the Guinness World Record listing the project as setting a new record for the "Most Trees Planted Simultaneously."

Thousands of individuals from all sectors of society participated in the DENR-sponsored Green Philippine Highways project involving 4,181 kilometers of Philippine highways, Reyes noted.

"The launch of the Trees for Life project on the grounds of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, a symbol of our heritage, is intended to call the attention of all Filipinos to the pressing need not only to preserve but restore a natural habitat which has been irresponsibly and incalculably damaged, almost beyond repair," said Reyes.

The launching of the project was considered globally significant in view of the current campaign by the United Nations and the international community to combat global warming arising from man-made gas emissions.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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