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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, October 11, 2014
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‘Negros forest cover up 15%’

The forest cover of Negros Occidental has increased by 12 to 15 percent, that is equivalent to 3,000 to 6,000 hectares, compared to five years ago, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Andres Untal said yesterday.

Untal attributed this to their intensified forest protection campaign, under the National Greening Program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in tandem with local government units, and various multi-sectoral groups actively involved in the protection of the environment.

The remaining forest cover in Negros Occidental can only be found in the Northern Negros and Mt. Kanlaon Natural Parks, with some forest patches located in southern Negros, he said.

Negros Occidental had a forest cover of about 68,857.87 hectares a decade ago. From nine percent, it rose to 12 to 15 percent, as of this time, Untal said.

He stressed that the campaign to protect the environment is a “shared responsibility”, that should not be left only to DENR, which, he noted, is being blamed for flashfloods and for lack of water during the dry season.

Untal also acknowledged the help of the Task Force Ilahas, an enforcement unit of the Provincial Environment and Management Office in the forest protection campaign.

DENR records show that the PENR Office in Negros Occidental ranks second in the implementation of National Greening Program in Western Visayas.

In support of the peace process of the government, the DENR also hired more than 100 members of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade as forest guards.

RPA-ABB members were also enrolled and allocated areas to be planted to varieties of fruit trees and hardwood species as part of the NGP implementation, and as a component of their livelihood.*GPB

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