Environmentalist group, IPs to launch reforestation project in Davao City

November 19, 2010 1:45 am 

DAVAO CITY, Nov. 18 – An environmentalist group and the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) will launch here a forest and land conservation project that will be implemented in five sites in Mindanao this weekend.

Jonathan Bentley-Stevens, country director of Raintrust, said their group is now closely coordinating with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and with this, they are also conducting the signing an agreement of conservation projects with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 10 for the protection of watershed in the area.

He said their presence in Mindanao will be their first in the Philippines and they have set up their present office in Barangay Miranda, Babak, Island Garden City of Samal.

Stevens said their organization will extend grants to the IPs for them to work on forest protection and conservation.

But he said the money will not be given to them one time but will be managed according to the progress of their work.

The release will be done on staggered basis to ensure that the funding will be applied accordingly.

Among the areas that they already had identified as partners as discussed with the tribal chieftains and NCIP are Pagadian (Zamboanga del Sur), Agusan del Sur, Tagoloan (Misamis Oriental), Lanao del Sur, Laak and New Bataan (Compostela Valley) and Malungon (Sarangani Province).

The signing of the agreement will be done this week and together with Stevens are 10 other officers of Raintrust International including the founder, David Plattner.

For his part, Plattner said after their successful implementation of their projects in countries like Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia they want to bring the concept to the Philippines.

Citing his experience in Brazil, he said the country is losing 18,000 hectares a day to deforestation and this has to be stopped, citing that "we need environmental security".

Plattner stressed that the project will only be done on deforested lands.

He also said their project in Java, Indonesia is benefiting some 200,000 people in the form of jobs.

At the Raintrust website, Plattner is described as the chief visionary "RainMan" of the RainTrust Organization who is recognized worldwide as a leader in the development of sustainable industries for the benefit of environmental security. Since 2004, he has served the global warming cause by proactively developing RainTrust, an international initiative dedicated to the preservation and conservation of bio-diverse threatened areas worldwide.

Meanwhile, Stevens said in the Philippines they are targeting one million hectares and the implementation of the projects will be in coordination with the local government units and other concerned government offices and if necessary even the Office of the President in cases where there will be illegal activities.

To support the monitoring system, he said they will set up satellite offices right in the areas where the IPs are involved. He said they target to establish these offices by December this year.

He said their intention is to strengthen the advocacy of protecting the environment because leaving the forest unprotected will have tremendous effect worldwide.

Stevens noted the project will benefit over 500,000 IPs. (PNA) LAP/Digna D. Banzon/lvp

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