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Thai subsidiary to reforest 50 hectares in Bataan National Park Friday 24th of May 2013

PTT Philippines Corp., a subsidiary of PTT, Thailand’s biggest oil company, on Thursday formally launched a massive tree-planting project which aims to rehabilitate portions of the Bataan National Park.

The project is in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP), the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP), the Bataan Peninsula State University (BPSU), Mga Bayani ng Kalikasan, Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and Wide Out Technology.

The project was launched by PTT executives, led by Wisarn Chawalitanon, president and CEO of PTT Philippines; and Paul Patricio J. Senador, president of PTT Philippines Foundation.

During the launch held at the PTT gasoline station along MIA Road in Pasay City, Environment Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio underscored the importance of private-sector participation to boost the government’s effort to rehabilitate the country’s forests.

He said the country’s forest cover is now down to just 24 percent.  The Aquino administration, he said, aims to increase the country’s forest by planting 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares by 2016 under the National Greening Program (NGP).

Ignacio said through the help of private-sector partners, the government may be able to increase the country’s forest cover.

The NGP, now on its third year of implementation, has so far reforested 320,000 hectares planted with about 125 million native, indigenous and fruit-bearing tree species.

Next year the DENR official said they target to plant 150 million trees in 300,000 hectares of land. 

The project, dubbed “Gas Up for a Tree,” aims to reforest 50 hectares of denuded forest within the Bataan National Park, particularly within the ancestral lands of the Magbukun tribe in Morong.

Under the project, starting on Friday, every purchase of P1,000 worth of PTT gasoline and diesel products commits PTT to plant one tree under the motorist’s name.  The exact location and growth of the tree may be monitored online with the help of Wide Out, PTT’s technology partner.

Through the project, PTT hopes to generate support and participation from the consumers with the growing need to save the environment.  Consumers who will support the program will be invited to join the actual tree-planting activity to be scheduled later.

The Magbukun tribe is one of 18 Ayta tribes in the province.

The PTTPC, through its corporate social responsibility arm PTT Philippines Foundation Inc., will plant at least 10,000 seedlings of fruit-bearing trees, dipteracaros, lawaan, apitong, narra and other wood species.

Initially, the project will cover 20 hectares of lands.  It will be expanded after the first phase of implementation.

The project will benefit more than 100 Ayta families belonging to the Magbukun tribe who will be provided livelihood  as managers of a nursery of the seedlings to be planted and as caretaker of the trees to be planted.

Rodelio Tamundog, tribal chieftain of the Magbukuns, told the BusinessMirror that portions of their 10,000-hectare ancestral domain claim within the Bataan National Park is already denuded.

He said the project will greatly benefit their tribe and all other tribes in the province, noting that despite the rapid urbanization in Bataan, tribal communities are still heavily dependent on the forest for their shelter, food, medicine, water and other basic needs.

“The forest is very important to us.  Without it, there will be no wild animals.  No wild birds.  No fruits to eat,” said Tamundog in Tagalog.

He said the Bataan National Park still has some wild boars and deer and as part of their commitment to protecting their ancestral land, they will help protect the forest and its wildlife for them to thrive once more.

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