Massive reforestation

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(Continued from Sept. 13, 2018)

OFFICIALS of Greenpeace said they are worried about the over emphasis on restoration, because according to them, restoration programs are more expensive than the prevention of deforestation. They added that many areas that many areas in need of forest restoration may require extensive soil restoration first.

Learning from the experience of the African nations, I now think that the target of our own National Greening Program (NGP) should have been the restoration of lost forests in terms of hectares, and not the planting of trees.

As it is now, it is very difficult to measure the success or failure of the NGP, because there is no way to inspect the trees where they are supposed to have been planted already. There is also no way to find out whether the seedlings (not really trees) that were planted were cared for and nourished until such time that they would have grown into mature trees. When counting the number of hectares that have been restored, there should be a standard as to how many trees should have been planted per hectare.

In the case of the African Union, the commitments were made by the member countries, and it is implied that these countries already set aside the resources needed to make the initiative happen from their end of the equation, before they made their pledge. If countries can do that on a continental scale, perhaps provinces could also do it on a national scale. After all, it is not too difficult for each province to measure how much of their deforested areas could still be restorable.

Once they are able to measure the total number of hectares that could be reforested, then they can already set their own provincial targets on an annual basis, until they are able to achieve 100% of their targets at the end of their timeframe.

In reality, this idea to require the provinces to set their own reforestation targets should not be viewed as an imposition, because the provinces could make money from these reforestation initiatives not just once, but thrice.

Yes, it is not just twice, but thrice. The first source of money is the “Debt for Nature” scheme, a global program that could be used to pay our foreign debts not with money, but with “nature credits”. Of course the national government would not make any earnings from this scheme, but it could generate savings because it does not have to pay with cash anymore. In turn, the national government could convert these savings into cash and give it to the provinces.

Aside from earning from “nature credits”, the provinces could also earn from “carbon credits”. There is hope that because of the agreements reached in COP21, the global carbon credits scheme will gain new momentum.

The third source of money is from the taxes that the private businesses will pay to the provinces when the local economy grows because of the multiplier effects of the massive reforestation programs.

There is a fourth benefit, although it is not directly in terms of money. More trees would mean less flooding, less erosion and less pollution. Down the line, more trees would mean more water from the ground, more rains from the sky and more fruits from the forests. Add to that more cooking fuel and more electricity from gasifier power plants./PN

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