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1M hectare bamboo plantation eyed

An expansion of the National Greening Program (NGP) with a boost in livelihood projects are underway through the 1M-hectare bamboo plantation project, it was known during the Kapihan sa Kawayanan at St. Francis Xavier Seminary, Liteng Pacdal last Wednesday.

Attended by Philippine Bamboo Foundation (PBF) official Edgardo Manda, Watershed and Water Resources Research Center (WWRRC) head Carlos Arida, book author and bamboo expert Fatima Tangan and City Environment and Parks Management Officer Cordelia Lacsamana, the forum focused on bamboo propagation to help mitigate the effects of global warming, as well as provide materials for economic upliftment for propagators and entrepreneurs.

The envisioned 1M hectare bamboo plantation is part of the country’s commitment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to reforest 20M hectares by 2020, in an effort to improve the environment. Bamboos have properties for carbon sequestration, at least 12 tons per hectare per year, and release oxygen into the environment.

According to Manda, there are 26 identified pilot areas in the country including Abra and downside Mt. Pulag, in Kabayan, Benguet; which undergoes assessment to identify species fitted for the area. There are bamboo species for tropical and high elevation places, Manda said.

Active partners for the project are the academe in the Cordilleras, the civil society, consultants, private individuals and local government officials who could help craft implementing rules and regulations for the community-based program, which starts 2017.

Baguio’s Busol watershed is partially planted with bamboo, Secretary to the mayor Rafael Tallocoy said as confirmed by CEPM Officer Cordelia Lacsamana, with several varieties nurtured at the Botanical nursery, along with ornamentals for the parks.

Professor Dante Chichiocco of the Forestry Department, Benguet State University (BSU) said pockets of bamboo plantations are planned within the area, in addition to farmers’ forums and seminars undertaken for the purpose.

Opportunities abound for bamboo propagators, Tangan said, as weekly orders are placed for 1,500 propagules and other ornamentals to Quezon City, 40,000 Kawayan Tinik seedlings are also needed in Pangasinan for planting in river banks. The latter program is in line with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez’ advocacy dubbed “from reef to ridge,” using mangrove and bamboo to preserve or reclaim soil in bodies of water or elevated soil edges.

A bamboo specie’s roots could “run” for 20 km, thus effectively hold soil and prevent erosion, as well as multiply fast, it was known.

The bamboo experts also admitted that a “bamboo king,” a government enthusiast is needed to effectively push the 1M hectare bamboo plantation project, in cooperation with other agencies. -juliegfianza