PN file

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) assured efforts on helping the country meet demand for lumber.

Tree-planting under DENR-led National Greening Program (NGP) won’t just be to increase Philippine forest cover but also to grow species that will eventually be harvested for lumber, noted DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu.

“We will be assisting private planters in planting their private lots,” he assured Thursday during DENR’s virtual celebration of its 34th anniversary.

Cimatu said the Philippines needs around 5 million cubic meters of lumber annually.

At present, the country produces about 1 million cubic meters of lumber — mostly in private lands — and must source the balance elsewhere, he noted.

“We need to plant to produce what we need,” he said.

He said mahogany, gmelina and acacia mangium are the tree species for planting and harvesting.

Also for planting and harvesting is bamboo as he said this grass species is suitable lumber material. He, however, clarified that indigenous tree species will still be used for planting to increase forest cover.

Such species can’t be cut down but must be conserved and protected instead, he said.

Forest cover consists of natural and man-made forests including forests within wetlands and built-up areas, DENR noted.

In 2011, DENR launched NGP to reforest open and degraded forest land nationwide while helping alleviate poverty and address climate change.

DENR said NGP already greened over 2 million hectares around the country. EO 193 series of 2015 extended NGP’s implementation period from 2016, when this program’s initial run ended, to 2028.

Such extension aims to enable NGP to cover all remaining unproductive, denuded and degraded forest land in the country, noted EO 193.

Among DENR’s NGP partners are people’s organizations that help produce seedlings which the agency gives out for planting under the program.

“DENR @ 34: Celebrating a Greener and Safer Environment” is the agency’s anniversary celebration theme this year.

During the celebration, Cimatu thanked DENR personnel for enabling the agency to accomplish much despite continuing onslaught of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Improvement in air and water quality, closure of all open dumps nationwide and successful rehabilitation of tourism gem Boracay Island are among DENR’s accomplishments, he noted.

“After around 15 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, we still have many things to celebrate,” he added. (PNA)