Thousands of tree seedlings of various species set for planting in Caraga region

BUTUAN CITY – Heeding the call of President Marcos, Jr. to continue tree planting to combat global warming and climate change, a mining firm that has continued engaging in tree planting for the past several years is now targeting anew to plant thousands trees of various species, including fruit trees and bamboos in several areas in Agusan del Sur and neighboring zones in Northeastern Mindanao (The Caraga Region).

Since the start of their tree planting program in 2001 up to the present, the company has planted 1,254,334 tree seedlings of various species, including fruit trees and giant bamboos in their 2,081.27 hectares plantations in this province and neighboring areas.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is so appreciative of the continuous tree planting program of this company.

“This is really a big help in our campaign to mitigate other man-made and natural calamities, aside from our climate change mitigation,” stressed DENR 13 Regional Executive Director (RED) Nonito M. Tamayo in an interview with The Manila Bulletin.

The region’s top DENR official commended the Philsaga Mining Corporation and Mindanao Mineral Processing and Refining Company (PMC/MMPRC) for their continuing tree planting program in the progressing towns of Rosario and Bunawan, both in Agusan del Sur province and in other areas in Caraga region.

As recorded, the company had already planted and maintained Lauan, Bagtikan, Toog, Narra, Bangkal, Lanipao, Molave, Dao, Rain Shower and Agoho and giant bamboo trees, and Rambutan, Durian, Lanzones, Mangosteen, Langka and Pomelo fruit trees.

For the past 21 years, PMC/MMPRC stepped up its tree planting program, and is now targeting anew to plant about 80,000 trees of various species next year.

“Our continuing tree planting is really a big plus factor in our climate change mitigation program and disaster preparedness and prevention program,” said RED Tamayo, adding ‘this must be sustained.’

The PMC/MMPRC is also aiming to sustain ecological balance for the next generation, said the company’s President Atty. Raul C. Villanueva.

The continuing success of the company’s tree planting program was also based on Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to the surface rights owner and its respective local government units and tribal group, he said.

Recently, President Marcos, Jr. made his strong appeal to continue ‘without let up’ the tree planting after seeing the devastation brought about by the series of calamities that struck the country last month, particularly in Central Mindanao where many fatalities and missing persons were reported, while millions of pesos of agricultural crops and properties were damaged.

During the recent Climate Investment Forum, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga has also urged the private sector to take up a greater role in the fight against climate change amid growing climate uncertainties and mounting financial requirements for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“Our greening program will not stop; this is not only for our generation today but also for the next generation as well,” said Atty. Villanueva and company’s Vice-President for Operations Ferdinand A. Cortes in unison.

Reforestation beneficiaries as planters

The success of PMC/MMPRC’s tree planting program could also be attributed to its hiring of the reforestation beneficiaries as planters, especially natives and paying them for activities like site clearing, planting, replacing dead seedlings and maintenance with new ones, they said.

Fruits produced from fruit-bearing tree plantation by the company are benefiting farmers, especially the 90% population of the highland people (natives) in the municipalities of Rosario and Bunawan, who are enjoying the fruits of the livelihood project, as host communities of the company.

Part of the company’s environmental advocacy is also focused on bringing back to life the waterways in the villages through the ‘Adopt-A-Creek’ program.

The Agsao Creek, which is crisscrossing the mountainous areas at Upper Coo (Bunawan town), was restored with a concrete rip-rap, thus, preventing siltation and keeping the creek garbage-free.

Mangrove planting

The PMC/MMPRC’s commitment to massive tree planting is not only confined within its mining areas, but also in the villages and towns of nearby provinces.

The company ventured into marine-habitat-protection programs by planting 12,500 mangrove propagules along the fish-rich coastal town of Barobo in Surigao del Sur province. Members of the communities are paid to ensure that the propagules grow and replace dead ones.

The Barobo project was the company’s corporate initiative through the ‘Adopt-A-Mangrove’ plantation program in support of the local marine-conservation effort to address the condition of the 5-hectare coastal area.

“Our reforestation projects and other endeavors are ways to show the company’s resolve to really become a true advocate of environmental causes, notwithstanding that it is our contribution in mitigating the effects of climate change,” Atty. Villanueva pointed out.

Bamboo plantation

Ahead of all other companies in Mindanao, the company has also embarked on a giant bamboo-plantation project within its mine site and mill site. About 16,115 giant bamboo plants have been planted in the company’s 17.35 hectares. The giant bamboos, like the mangrove propagules, are excellent in carbon sequestration.

Atty. Villanueva estimates that the company has sequestered almost 1 million tons of carbon with all its reforestation projects, while the company’s annual carbon footprint is estimated to be below 50,000 tons.

PMC/MMPRC is certified by the International Standard Organization, giving it the serious tasks to strictly adopt the environment management system in its work places. An environmental management system helps this company identify, manage, monitor and control their issues in a ‘holistic’ manner.

The PMC/MMPRC is also responding to a call of the national government for assistance.

The company, in close coordination with DENR, facilitated the recent delivery of 12,237 grafted Durian, 11,331 grafted Rambutan, 11,255 grafted Lanzones and 15, 681 Mangosteen seedlings, followed by 10,223 seedlings of grafted Giant Bamboo donated to the Province of Dinagat Islands (PDI) for their regreening program. PDI was devastated by super Typhoon Odette late last year.

PMC/MMPRC also donated 11,273 grafted Durian, 11,746 grafted Rambutan, 11,655 grafted Lanzones, 4,130 Mangosteen, and 10,233 Molave seedlings to Siargao Islands, in Surigao del Norte province. These seedlings were distributed to various recipients from different people’s organizations in the island on June 30, 2022.

“Although the donations were insufficient compared to the devastation that the typhoon had caused these two provinces, the bayanihan spirit and resiliency of the Filipinos will surely help them get through this crisis,” Atty. Villanueva said, adding ‘PMC/MMPRC wishes all the best for the people of the Dinagat Islands and Siargao Islands-You are survivors, and you can rise again! Be fighters like Tigers!”