MANILA – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) aims to secure a budget of PHP5.15 billion for the 2020 implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP), the government’s most ambitious reforestation bid so far.

According to a DENR statement, the target sum is the biggest in the agency’s proposed total budget of PHP25.49 billion for next year.

The 2020 budget message to Congress cited the target NGP budget as covering forestry rehabilitation activities around the country.

Those activities are planting over 150,000 hectares of forests and producing almost 167 million seedlings, as well as maintaining 318,871 hectares of forests and watersheds.

DENR launched NGP in 2011 to reforest some 1.5 million hectares of unproductive, denuded, and degraded forestland around the country by 2016.

In 2015, Malacañang issued EO 193. which extended NGP’s implementation period from 2016 to 2028 so that the program can cover the country’s estimated 7.1 million hectares of remaining unproductive, denuded, and degraded forestland.

NGP aims to promote the country’s self-sufficiency in wood and wood products, poverty alleviation, food and economic security as well as environmental stability.

Official DENR data showed that during the 2011-2018 period, NGP greened nearly 2 million hectares of unproductive, denuded, and degraded forestland nationwide using some 1.7 billion seedlings.

For 2019, the budget department said DENR has a total budget of PHP22.9 billion to address various environmental challenges in the country.

NGP’s 2019 budget is PHP2.6 billion for planting 985,000 seedlings in 900 hectares around the Philippines. as well as for maintaining and protecting 353,886 hectares of planted areas, the budget department continued.

The DENR said House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez is supporting the agency’s proposed 2020 budget.

He lauded DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu for being the best environment chief so far, the agency noted.

Albay (1st District) Rep. Edcel Lagman also vowed support for the 2020 budget the DENR is seeking “upon assurance from Sec. Cimatu on the protection of the rights of upland dwellers in enhanced NGP’s implementation,” the agency added. (PNA)