Nationwide greening fuels countryside job generation, employment

MANILA, April 29 (PNA) -- Paid work under the government's National Greening Program (NGP) surged during the period from 2011 to the end of December 2015, boosting the government's poverty alleviation prospects, particularly in the country's marginalized uplands. 

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which is spearheading NGP, this program generated a total of 3.2 million jobs nationwide during the period. 

DENR also said NGP employed a total of 443,739 persons around the country. 

Such persons generally undertook more than one NGP job, DENR said. Executive Order No. 26, Series of 2011, established NGP and laid out strategies for its successful implementation. Launched in mid-2011, NGP is so far government's most ambitious reforestation bid. 

NGP aims greening by 2016 some 1.5 million hectares of open, denuded and degraded land nationwide using an estimated 1.5 billion seedlings of indigenous and exotic tree species. 

DENR said areas reforested through NGP already totaled some 1.35 million hectares as of Dec. 31 last year -- exceeding this program's 2015 target of 1.2 million hectares. Annual number of jobs NGP generated over the years reached 335,078 jobs (2011), 380,696 jobs (2012), 466,990 jobs (2013), 1.1 million jobs (2014) and 915,729 jobs (2015), DENR data show. Such jobs covered various activities related to survey, mapping and planning, seedling production, site preparation as well as plantation protection and maintenance. 

The data also show annual number of persons employed under NGP reached 47,868 people (2011), 55,146 people (2012), 65,198 people (2013), 152,008 people (2014) and 123,519 people (2015). Government decided implementing NGP to help reduce poverty, promote food security, environmental stability and biodiversity conservation as well as enhance climate change mitigation and adaptation. Members of people's organizations, extension workers and laborers are among NGP's paid workers. 

Their activities for NGP surveying, mapping and planning include hauling of survey equipment, cooking materials and food. 

For NGP seedling production, their activities are collecting seeds, treating and sowing seeds, establishing and maintaining nursery sheds, constructing seed beds and preparing potting media. They also pot, bag, water and prick seedlings, apply fertilizer and haul the planting materials to NGP sites. 

NGP workers' site preparation activities are brushing, hauling, digging holes and staking such sites as well as actual planting of seedlings. Replanting seedlings if needed, ring-weeding, applying fertilizer, establishing fire lines and conducting foot patrol are their protection and maintenance activities. 

Since NGP includes planting agro-forestry crops where possible, government allows NGP workers to harvest produce from these for their personal consumption and trading. Such strategy aims helping meet the workers' food needs and further increase their income, noted DENR. 

DENR data further show 91,333 men and 32,186 women were employed as NGP workers last year. The number of persons employed under NGP in 2015 was almost 159 percent more than government's target of only 77,763 people then, the data also show. 

NGP's 2015 planting accomplishment of 334,364 hectares is 111 percent over the year's target of 300,000 hectares, DENR also said. Earlier, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cited the Philippines' NGP-facilitated reforestation accomplishment in the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 report. 

Such document showed the Philippines ranked fifth among countries reporting the greatest annual forest area gain of 240,000 hectares from 2010 to 2015, DENR noted. DENR added the report showed the country trailed China (1.5 million hectares), Australia (308,000 hectares), Chile (301 hectares) and the United States (275,000 hectares) but was ahead of sixth to 10th placers Gabon (200,000 hectares), Lao People's Democratic Republic (189,000 hectares), India (178,000 hectares), Vietnam (129,000 hectares) and France (113,000 hectares). (Philippine News Agency)
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