DENR-ARMM assures of ample tree seedlings for watersheds PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 December 2014 11:58

Stakeholders aim to plant a million more trees on a watershed supplying water to Cotabato City with seedlings from a nursery sustained with savings from operating funds of the natural resources department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindananao.

Kahal Kedtag, regional secretary of ARMM‘s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said their nursery at Lomboy District in west of Maguindanao’s Datu Odin Sinsuat town now has seedlings ready to be planted at the surroundings of the sprawling Dimapatoy watershed in the area.

The DENR-ARMM is keen on dispersing in the next 18 months at least 1.5 million seedlings from the nursery, located at one side of a hill overlooking the multi-million water supply facility of the Cotabato City Water District, along the eastern bank of the Dimapatoy River.

Kedtag and the ARMM’s deputy executive secretary, lawyer Rasol Mitmug, Jr., turned over on Monday to Maguindanao provincial environment and natural resources officer Doming Dagadas the management of the nursery as part of the regional government’s decentralization of functions and powers.

Kedtag and Mitmug both said they are thankful to the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) for extending a special “food-for-work” assistance scheme to local settlers poaching timbers from the supposedly protected Dimapatoy watershed, to be sold either as lumbers or charcoal.

“We ought to thank the WFP and all other benefactors of this program, which is obviously gaining headway now. There are no more illegal cutting of trees in the watershed now,” Mitmug said.

The WFP’s support package provided peasants in farmlands around the watershed with food in exchange for community development works, while waiting for their upland rice and corn harvests.

Mitmug said the Office of the Regional Governor, touted as “Little Malacañang” of ARMM, is elated with the cooperation of the region’s natural resources department and various local and foreign benefactors helping protect the watershed, which supplies water to all of the 37 barangays in Cotabato City.

“For this year alone, the DENR-ARMM allocated more than P800,000 worth of savings it generated in recent months to sustain this nursery,” Kedtag said.

There are more than 10 groups, including the the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, the ARMM’s regional police office and private environmentalist blocs helping the DENR-ARMM reforest barren lands in the periphery of the Dimapatoy watershed.

Kedtag said the cross-section community support to their Dimapatoy watershed reforestation campaign intensified after ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman declared a total ban on cutting of trees in all of the region’s forestlands in early 2012.

Hataman’s move resulted to the seizure in the same year of some P10 million worth of logs and lumbers from poachers that operated in watersheds around Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur and in forests in Maguindanao and the ARMM’s island provinces.

One of the staunch supporters of the ARMM’s environmental protection thrusts is a private wood processing establishment, Minrico, Inc. in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao, which provides Antipolo seedlings whenever the regional government embarks on tree planting activities.

“We intend to plant at least a million forest trees in denuded areas around the Dimapatoy watershed in the coming months,” Kedtag said.