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DENR ordered to expand reforestation projects

MANILA, Philippines – President Arroyo ordered yesterday the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to expand reforestation projects in the country.

Mrs. Arroyo has “instructed the Cabinet, particularly the DENR, to pursue an expanded reforestation program” for the country which has among the highest deforestation rates in the region, National Economic and Development Authority Deputy Director General and deputy presidential spokesman Rolando Tungpalan said.

“This is the message I personally convey when I meet with the donor community insofar as the importance of the forest protection and forest cover both to development and protection is discussed,” Tungpalan told a news briefing at the Palace.

Tungpalan noted the statements made by Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara citing the study of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that showed the Philippines has one of the highest annual deforestation rates in East and Southeast Asia at 1.4 percent.

Tungpalan said the Philippine government is seeking to increase official development assistance from Japan for reforestation.

Under negotiations is $106 million forest management program from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

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The government is also negotiating the $3.7 million Mindanao Sustainable Settlement Area Development Project; $84.25 million Project on Forestlands Management in Cagayan and Pampanga; and the $120 million Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Program from the ADB and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Between the ongoing foreign-funded reforestation and environment projects are the National Programme Support for Environmental and Natural Resources from the World Bank amounting to $52.5 million.

Other foreign-funded reforestation projects include the $59 million Integrated Coastal Resources Management from the ADB; and the $10.1 million Community-based Forest Management-Visayas from Germany. – Paolo Romero


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