Media reporting partly to blame for reforestation fiascos | Inquirer Opinion

Media reporting partly to blame for reforestation fiascos

/ 01:12 AM October 24, 2014

This is a reaction to the news report “Philippines breaks world tree-planting record” (, 9/27/14). The article says that the planting of 3.2 million trees in an hour in Mindanao, as part of the government’s National Greening Program (NGP), has eclipsed the previous record set by India.

This is not about tree-planting world records but about how all these years—and to the detriment of the country—media have been playing into the hands of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources whose fixed concept of reforestation begins and ends in tree planting. A fact shown by the total amount of space media usually give to tree-planting activities without monitoring the progress of the seedlings planted.

For instance, I still have to see an in-depth and comprehensive research on the actual impact, if any, of a government reforestation program going back to the time of the first Aquino administration when government started to undertake massive greening activities. Neither have media revisited the P200-million-worth Green Highway program of past environment secretary Angelo Reyes. (Is there a stretch of highway in the country where the environment is beginning to cool due to trees growing on both sides? The public is entitled to know because huge sums of public money were spent on such projects.

I monitor media coverage of the NGP, and most of the articles are devoted to planting. I have yet to see articles on the mortality rate of the planted seedlings and the really important aspect of reforestation—which is the development of the seedlings into real trees. There is neither an article on the status of NGP sites planted during the launching of the program in 2011. Those trees by now should have passed the delicate stage. In fact, a mahogany planted in 2011 should by now be five meters tall. But, alas, we do not see even just photos of these sites—if they exist at all—in media.


What I am trying to say is that if media would give adequate attention to government reforestation projects, more so after the tree-planting stage, the DENR people involved would have no choice but to see to it that seedlings planted would grow into trees because the world is watching. Right now, their concern seems to revolve just around the number of seedlings and number hectares planted—and, yes, getting into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Talking about reforestation records, the Philippines could lay claim to being the country with the most money wasted on reforestation. In Kalinga alone where an estimated P100 million has been poured for reforestation since President Cory’s time, it would be good if 5 percent of the seedlings planted are now trees. For the sake of our environment, the future of our children, and proper use of government funds, media should make the DENR accountable for all reforestation projects it undertakes by covering the projects continuously until we have actual forests. After all, that’s the reason we reforest. Unfortunately and ironically, this truth still has to sink into the minds of DENR people starting from its secretaries down.


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TAGS: DENR, environment, Media, reforestation

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