Massive Tree Planting and Greenbelt Buy-back Program
The Massive Tree Planting and Greenbelt-Buy Back Program is an effort of the local government of the Municipality of Quezon, Bukidnon to respond to the rapid degradation of the uplands resulting in the siltation of the Pulangi River Basin. The river is the source of hydroelectric power and water for the irrigation of farmlands. The program was implemented in 1992 with the incumbent Vice-Mayor as its main advocate.
To achieve its objective of massive reforestation, the municipality encourages all sectors to plant any species of tree anywhere - idle lands, school campuses, backyards, and public lands, specifically along sloping areas, creeks, streams and rivers. During barangay assemblies, those interested to plant trees are informed about the program and the incentives they can obtain for doing so. The municipal government provides seedlings to interested individuals, but anyone who wants to join the program must first register with the municipal government. To ensure the success of the program, the LGU supervises and monitors the tree planting activity. Three years after the trees are planted, those who planted them receive their pay incentives. The amount of incentive depends on the number of trees that survived, their height (at least three meters for fast growing species), and the type of land in which they are planted (whether privately owned or forested/public lands). Those three planters do not lose right of ownership over them; they can harvest the fruits of their trees and market them.
The program, which started with the simple cause of rehabilitating the forest has responded not only to one but to two goals, environmental and economic goals. This is now seen among the beneficiaries who are reaping the fruits of the program. In 1996, the LGU paid P496,461 to the first 57 claimants as incentive for the trees they planted that survived. Those who have already harvested mature trees have earned as much as P200,000 and not less than P15,000. Households that have received incentives have used these as capital investments to put up small businesses such as sari-sari stores. Schools have likewise used their incentives to improve school facilities and extend assistance to poor students. A cooperative among tree planters has been formed with the NGOs, church groups, and business sector participating in the whole process of the program from planning to evaluation. The program continues to attract interest. Three hundred individuals registered to plant trees in 2000.
In terms of its environmental goals, the program has already met its objective of rehabilitating the denuded forest of Quezon, Bukidnon. Thousands of hectares of land are now covered with greenery and the once dried-up riverbed is now flowing with water.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 2000 Galing Pook Awards.