As a showcase of the company’s environment protection programs and efforts to “keep Palawan green,” Bataraza-based Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) held the ceremonial planting of the first of the remaining 900,000 trees to complete its goal of planting five million trees in Brgy. Rio Tuba.
RTNMC, a Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) subsidiary, has a record of about 4.1 million surviving trees planted in various areas covered by its mine rehabilitation and reforestation programs.
In a press release, RTNMC said that the company and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)- Mines and Geosciences Bureau employ a mechanism “that actually monitors and counts the survival rates of the trees they plant.”
Janice Tupas, environmental planner and manager of RTNMC’s Mine Environmental Protection and Enhancement Department, believes that they can surpass their five million target by building hectares of bamboo plantations and engaging communities to “turn their backyards into mini forests,” also with the support of partner government agencies including the DENR and the Department of Education. She added that the company intends to plant more trees in the coming years.
Presidential Spokesperson Sec. Harry Roque Jr. graced the ceremonial planting, and personally witnessed the company’s mining operations during his visit there.
“To date, RTN rehabilitated a total of 196.64 hectares of its mining area where it has planted 1,205,763 surviving trees of different species including narra, ipil, apitong, agoho, udling, kupang, batino, tongkat ali, amugis, among others. Some 663.08 has. have been reforested with native tree species, coffee, mangroves, botanical plant, and some industrial trees, in support of the government’s Green Philippine Highway Project; Adopt-a-Mountain Project; and the National Greening Program,” the company said in its press release.
As of December 2020, mining and mineral processing plants in the province of Palawan have planted a total of 3,445,096 surviving trees and reforested 483.97 hectares of mined-out and other areas.
Pursuant to DENR Administrative Order No. 1989-22, mining firms are mandated to conduct reforestation/rehabilitation/afforestation activities in mined-out areas and other disturbed lands within their permit/lease/contract areas, including other areas that can be adopted by the companies (as requested by the local government, community, and other stakeholders), through their Mining Forest Program (MFP).
This is also in line with the companies’ greening efforts in support of the priority activities to rehabilitate denuded forest lands and maintain, and protect the existing forests through the National Greening Program.
The MFP also encourages stakeholder involvement through a community-based forest management program where local communities become partners in forest maintenance and protection, and can benefit from the program by utilizing the land for food production and other income-generating opportunities.
Together with partner government agencies and stakeholders, MGB Regional Offices conduct quarterly validation of the MFP sites to monitor the implementation of the program in compliance with relevant environmental laws, rules, and regulations.