Miners now required to establish bamboo plantations at site

All the mining sites in the Philippines, one of the most highly mineralized countries in the world, are now mandated to have a huge bamboo plantation each as part of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) post COVID-19 recovery efforts.

This was written in the June 11, 2020 memorandum issued by Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) titled "Establishment of Bamboo Plantation in Mining Areas".

 Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu wants all mining contractors to establish an additional bamboo plantation equivalent to 10 percent of their declared final mining area to bring the total target bamboo plantation area to at least 20 percent.

It was in September last year when Cimatu first instructed the mining companies to establish and maintain bamboo plantations equivalent to10 percent of their mined-out areas.

For miners without mined-out area yet for rehabilitation, an offset bamboo plantation outside its contract areas shall be constructed.

MGB said the offset bamboo plantation shall be covered with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) by and between the mining company concerned and private landowners or people's organizations in order to ensure that mining companies will monitor the growth of bamboo

species planted with corresponding appropriate measures implemented.

The offset bamboo plantation area should also not be covered by the existing Expanded National Greening Program (ENGP) or any projects of the DENR or any non-government organizations.

Rocky Dimaculangan, vice president for corporate communications at Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), an organization of some of the country's largest mining operations, said the mining industry welcomes this decision but added that other plant and tree species should also be planted within their sites just like what they are doing now.

"Bamboo can provide huge environmental benefits as it is a renewable resource, absorbs greenhouse gases, fast growing, enriches and protects the soil, and is highly adaptable. This grass specie offers opportunities for job generation and is a good substitute for wood in many applications, such as paper, furniture, and building materials," Dimaculangan said.

"To maintain biodiversity, however, other plant and tree species should be planted as well as part of a comprehensive mine rehabilitation plan," he added.