Reforestation helps boost PH lumber production

The tree-planting under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (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.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the NGP will surely help the country meet the demand for lumber. “We will be assisting private planters in planting their private lots,” he assured during the DENR’s virtual celebration of its 34th anniversary recently.

Cimatu said the Philippines needs around 5 million cubic meters of lumber annually. Currently the country produces about 1 million cubic meters of lumber — mostly in private lands — and must source the balance elsewhere.

“We need to plant to produce what we need,” he said, adding that mahogany, gmelina and acacia mangium are the tree species for planting and harvesting, aside from bamboo, a grass specie that is a 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 added.

Forest cover consists of natural and man-made forests including forests within wetlands and built-up areas. In 2011, DENR launched the NGP to reforest open and degraded forest lands nationwide while helping alleviate poverty and address climate change.

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

Such extension aims to enable the 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.