City of San Fernando, Pampanga – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Association of South East Asian Nation- Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Forest Cooperation (AFoCo) planned to establish a forest regional training center worth P700,000 in Candelaria town, Zambales.
The training center will enhance the knowledge and skills of forest managers and peoples’ organizations (PO) to better restore and protect the ASEAN region’s forest and fight global warming and climate change, according to Orlando Panganiban, head of the forest resources management division of the DENR -Forest Management Bureau (FMB).
Panganiban said the ASEAN regional training center will serve as a demonstration area for the application of assisted natural regeneration (ANR) technology using the landscape approach to sustainable forest management and will benefit forest technician, including members of the PO.
“The center will develop and promote a 30-hectare demonstration area of ANR as a cost efficient way of regenerating forest by enhancing the establishment of secondary forest from degraded grassland and shrub vegetation by protecting and nurturing the mother trees and their wildlings inherently present in the area” he explained.
He said the objective of ANR is to accelerate, rather than replace, natural successional processes by removing or reducing barriers to natural forest regeneration such as soil degradation, competition with weedy species, and recurring disturbances like grass fire and grazing.
“In ANR, seedlings are, in particular, protected from undergrowth and extremely flammable plants such as cogon (Imperata cylindrical) and talahib (Saccharum spontaneum),” he pointed out, adding that as a protection effort, new trees are planted when needed or wanted called enrichment planting.
According to Francisco Milla, Jr., director of DENR in Central Luzon, the training center is a big support to the DENR and the ASEAN member countries to further boost its reforestation effort.
“This will enable us to fast track the restoration of degraded forestland and watershed, and with ANR, forests grow faster than they would naturally,” he explained.
The AFoCo turned-over to DENR worth half a million pesos of equipment, including generators, fire fighting equipment, desktop computers, projectors and geographical positioning system (GPS) units that will initially be used in the center to help improve the DENR’s reforestation efforts.
Organization of AFoCo was first proposed by the Republic of Korea in June 2009 to share their experiences and technologies with other Asian countries in the forest sector as a forest cooperation organization, which aims to promote forest restoration and rehabilitation and sustainable development in the Asian region.
It was established in November 2011 after ratifying by ten South East Asian Nations, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.