ARMM volunteers to reforest areas in Maguindanao
John Unson (philstar.com) - December 4, 2015 - 9:18pm

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Various groups in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will reforest in 12 months denuded spots in three watershed areas in Maguindanao province which past ARMM governors helplessly failed to protect from poachers.

ARMM’s natural resource secretary, Hadji Kahal Kedtag, on Saturday told The STAR the Mahogany, Narra and Molave tree seedlings to be planted in the surroundings of the three watershed areas are now being prepared by volunteers from enclaves around their nursery in Lomboy District west of Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao.

The three watershed areas, Kabulnan, Dimapatoy, and the forested mountain ranges in South Upi, all in Maguindanao, are covered by a ban on logging activities signed in early 2012 by ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

Kedtag and a popular Cotabato City-based peace activist, Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr. of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) congregation, on Thursday showed reporters the nursery of forest tree seedlings to be planted in the three watershed areas.

Kedtag said more than 400 ethnic non-Moro Teduray villagers have volunteered, via a food-for-work scheme, to help propagate the seedlings for the massive reforestation projects.

Volunteers have also been propagating Caribbean Pine seedlings in the nursery site in Lomboy, which is adjacent to the Army’s Camp Siongco in the same municipality.

“This is another reform initiative of our public service principal in the ARMM government, Gov. Hataman,” Kedtag said.

Mercado and his colleagues in the OMI are involved in various environmental-protection and peace advocacy programs in Central Mindanao and in the ARMM’s island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

“This reforestation campaign, which is part of the National Greening Program, is meant to cushion the impact of climate change in Maguindanao and restore the forested homelands of the hinterland dwelling native Maguindanaon and ethnic Teduray people,” Kedtag said.

The logging moratorium Hataman declared three years ago and his administration’s continuing reforestation efforts in the past three years restored 6.7 percent of the ARMM’s forest cover, expanding its forestlands from only 286,000 hectares to 301,000 hectares during the period.

This was established through an extensive satellite-based geo-tagging survey validation system initiated by engineers and foresters with the help of local government units in the autonomous region.

“This was achieved via a strong cooperation between the office of our regional governor, the national central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resource, and local organizations involved in environmental-protection efforts,” Kedtag said.

The functions of the DENR were devolved to the ARMM government based on the region’s charter, the Republic Act 9054.

ACIRC ARMM AUTONOMOUS REGION CAMP SIONGCO CARIBBEAN PINE CENTRAL MINDANAO COTABATO CITY DATU ODIN SINSUAT DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCE KEDTAG MAGUINDANAO
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