MMDC kicks off reforestation drive in 5 towns
MMDC Environment Manager Manuel Torres in first photo briefs environmental personnel before a rehabilitation activity at the Cabangahan mined out area. In second photo, Marcventures’ staff get their hands dirty for a cause as they conduct reforestation works at the company's various rehabilitation sites.
In a bid to help reforest the towns adjoining its mining tenement, Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation (MMDC) recently kicked off a multi-stakeholder reforestation program covering more than a thousand hectares.
Dubbed “Ug Tanom Kinow” (Manobo for “Let us plant”), MMDC tree-planting drive and involves over 2.9 million trees and covers the five Surigao del Sur municipalities of Cantilan, Carrascal, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza.
Collectively known as CanCarMadCarLan, these towns host one of the country’s remaining “old growth” forests (also called virgin or primary forests), which have been ravaged by years of illegal logging activities, slash-and-burn cultivation and other destructive agricultural practices.
Manuel Torres, MMDC Environmental Manager, said MMDC’s greening project involves reforestation and maintenance to create biodiverse system with multiple uses, such as: agro-forestry, production forest, protection forest, and restoration/riparian zones.
Torres said that in seeking to plant a total of 2,987,875 endemic and high-value fruit trees on a total area covering 1,195 hectares, MMDC, among others, hopes to achieve the following goals:
-- rehabilitate, revegetate or reforest degraded open grasslands and brush lands in target areas, including riverbanks and watersheds
-- provide alternative livelihood opportunities to community residents
-- promote active participation of communities for longterm conservation to protect the existing forests of CanCarMadCarLan (primarily by prohibiting project beneficiaries from cutting trees in existing protection forest)
SUPPORT FOR ENGP
The company’s reforestation program for CanCarMadCarLan reflects MMDC’s commitment to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP). Torres noted that most of the recipient towns are outside of the company’s 4,799-hectare mining concession.
ENGP is an expanded version of the former administration’s nationwide reforestation program. Under Pres. Duterte’s watch, ENGP seeks to reforest some 1.2 million hectares between 2017 to 2022, with an eye towards providing “opportunities for communities to develop social enterprises to produce sustainable livelihood and optimize benefits, and encourage local government units, organized upland communities in the development of forest plantations...”
Aligned with the government’s vision to attract private sector interest to invest in forestry-related projects, Marcventures has forged partnerships with recipient local government units (LGU) and local partner organizations to implement the three-year reforestation program.
"Local partners are empowered by making them co-managers of the reforestation program, helping MMDC ensure its sustainability and success. For instance, the hiring of personnel to be deployed in the reforestation activities are delegated to the LGUs, giving them and their constituents tangible ownership of the program," Torres said.
Torres said the project has already kicked off in Carmen town, where MMDC signed partnership agreements with timber firm Surigao Development Corporation (Sudecor), the municipal environment officer, barangay and town officials, as well as he Lover of Nature Foundation, Inc., a local environment watchdog.
These agreements, among others, enumerate the responsibilities of the signatories in ensuring the success of the program. As one of its main responsibilities, MMDC has committed the provision of financial assistance to assist its partners in terms of mobilization and maintenance cost.
In its March 20, 2018 report to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Marcventures said these partnerships has already resulted in the turnover of 77,689 seedlings to the Carmen LGU, where the reforestation project aims to cover 100 hectares with 250,000 seedlings within the three-year reforestation program.
"Coordination works are also underway for the rest of the four recipient municipalities," MMDC's Environmental Manager disclosed.
PLANTING FOR THE FUTURE
As of March, MMDC and Carrascal town are already joining hands up for the additional 100-hectare reforestation project in Brgy. Panikian and Sitio Pili.
In other towns, the three-year reforestation program aims to plant 300,000 trees in Cantilan covering 120 hectares, including 100 hectares in Brgy. Cabangahan of the same town, with 250,000 seedling allocation;
Lanuza, 100 hectares with 250,000 seedling allocation; Madrid, 120 hectares with 300,000 seedling allocation; and Carrascal, 120 hectares with 300,000 seedling allocation.
On the Special Tree Cutting and Earth-Balled Permits (STCEP), meanwhile, MMDC has already planted 8,416 seedlings within its MPSA area--from the Bon-ot Causeway in Carrascal to the Cabangahan mine pit in Cantilan--from January to March, this year.
This effectively brings the total STCEP-related reforestation drive to 109,035 planted trees since the program started in 2016.
"With its multi-stakeholder approach to rehabilitation and reforestation, both within and outside of its mining tenement, Marcventures hopes to achieve a sustainable and holistic environment program that will also translate to economic benefits for its partner communities," Torres said.