Friday, November 13, 2015

A Turning Point in the Caraga Region

By Anton Antonio
November 13, 2015

The Caraga Region has traditionally been known as the “Timber Corridor” of the Philippines.  The region is composed of five provinces (Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands) and six cities (Butuan, Cabadbaran, Surigao, Tandag, Bislig and Bayugan).  In spite of the fact that the region is a tropical rainforest where there is an abundance of forest and timber resources, the Caraga Region remains to be one of the poorest regions in the country. 

It could be noted that the incidence of poverty is also inversely proportional to the decrease in forest cover in the region.  Using this logic, therefore, increasing the forest cover will naturally decrease the poverty incidence in the region.  Some local government units in the Caraga Region, having recognized the need to encourage reforestation and tree plantation establishment as a means to economic development, have started institutionalizing tree farms as a way to move forward.  Here is a researched material on this subject matter…

By Magno Ardenia
November 12, 2015

The Timber City of the South is looking at trees differently now.  Butuan City Mayor Jun Amante said the government is now shifting to a sustainable forest-based economy, instead of aimlessly utilizing resources.  “These [trees} are a God-given resource which we’ve squandered for how many years, we’re trying to bring it back.  Where we failed, it is where we will rise also,” said Amante.  Amante said their reforestation project is also a mechanism to alleviate poverty in the city.  “We set a breakthrough goal, in June 2015 we’re supposed to plant 5 million trees, we exceeded the breakthrough goal, we are now down to 7.2 million.  We’re supposed to plant 5 million trees to put in additional P10 billion every year to cut down our poverty incidence from 26 percent to maybe less than 10 percent by 2020,” he said.  “The tree farming is only a driver for economy, the vision really is poverty alleviation,” Amante added.  The City Mayor said he convinced people to plant more trees by emphasizing that they could earn from it.  He said one hectare of tree farm can easily earn a farmer P2 million in 6 years.  “One seedling of falcate is P1.50, in six years time it can become 3,000 [pesos},” he said.  Amante said they are employing the ridge to reef concept, “planting hardwood on the mountain tops, mangroves in the shore line, in between are timber trees for production.  So we divided our zone into production zone into production zone where falcate grows… 20% for the protective zone.”  In terms of increasing food production, Amante said forestry is the banner project but their agroforestry mechanism also incorporates livestock production, aquaculture, and vegetable farming.  Butuan City has recently been awarded the Islands of Good Governance, together with four other cities.”

The people of the Caraga Region are the most skilled in the business of tree planting and farming after having lived in an area where trees can be found everywhere, where trees can easily grow, and where trees have provided most everyone with a source of livelihood.  In the last five decades, however, forest resources have dwindled because of over-utilization and less emphasis on reforestation.  The Butuan City pro-forest initiatives could prove to be a turning point in the Caraga Region.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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REFERENCE:, (2015). “Butuan City Tries Forest-Based Economy to Halt Poverty”.  Retrieved on November 13, 2015 from

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