Bamboo can help increase PH’s forest cover

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu as he delivers his message during the 1st ASEAN Bamboo Congress. Among the delegates to the Congress are Mayor Francisco Amboy of Maasin, Iloilo and Engr. Noel C. Hechanova, Iloilo City ENR Officer.

Apart from helping combat the effects of climate change, bamboo can also help increase the country’s forest cover, disclosed Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

Bamboo, touted as the planet Earth’s tallest grass, has great potentials to pull the country off its environmental woes, especially as a strategic tool for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“Bamboo has been proven to adapt well to the changing climatic conditions of the world and has made significant contributions to mitigate the causes and effects of climate change,” said Cimatu in his message during the recently held 1st ASEAN Bamboo Congress at the Iloilo Convention Center, Megaworld Blvd., Iloilo City.

The plan to increase bamboo plantations and make Panay Island the Bamboo Capital of the Philippines in manufacturing engineered bamboo will ease the pressure on the country’s forests, Cimatu said.  He further disclosed that engineered bamboos are as sturdy as the lumber products.

Among the South East Asian nations, the Philippines ranked lowest in terms of forest cover, with an estimated 7,014,155.71 hectares or 23.38 percent of its official total land area of 30 million hectares.

“Bamboo reduces the need for timber resources, enhances carbon sequestration, biodiversity preservation and low-cost rehabilitation of degraded lands. We envision producing engineered bamboo products as a substitute for actual lumber requirement of our country, instead of cutting trees from our forests,” he said.

Through this, Cimatu said, it will slowly increase the forest cover of the Philippines for the next several years or decades.

“We have already conducted surveys as to the available areas which are potential for bamboo plantations in the region. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 has also allotted a budget of Php 10 million for this year to implement the plan,” said Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.

The 2019 Php 10-M budget targets to prioritize the planting of bamboos under the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP) implemented by the DENR. The budget includes the expenditures for establishing three nurseries for priority provinces, namely: Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Capiz; production of 100,000 bamboo seedlings; and capacity building for priority stakeholders and DENR personnel.

The bamboo industry has been considered a “sunset industry” or a business that still exists but is not gaining well as before. With the government’s plan to revive it, that would have to change soon. (DENR-6)