The ultimate convergence initiative
A major strength of the DENR is its ability to establish linkages with other government agencies and private partners. A testament to such strong convergence is a model project called Balik Probinsiya, which has the DENR working closely with three other departments: Agriculture, Agrarian Reform and Social Welfare and Development, and the provincial government.
According to Region 4-A OIC Director Reynulfo A. Juan, the program is made more effective than similar ones with the
introduction of livelihood opportunities that do not just provide beneficiaries with income sources, but also change the public
mindset that they need to destroy the environment or the forests in order to reap its benefits.
“The beneficiaries—upland dwellers, informal settlers and those relocated by the DSWD from Metro Manila—get livelihood
opportunities under the National Greening Program. They become our partners in planting and maintaining agroforestry products that will in the end bear them fruit come harvest time,” Juan explains.
The DENR’s role is to establish plantations for fuel wood which can become sources of charcoal so that natural forests are safe from poachers; as well as plantations of Malapapaya, used to produce bento boxes and toothpick. A malunggay plantation is also eyed because of the high demand in the market today.
Fuel wood is among the candidates for planting because in many upland areas, locals associate trees with money
and chop down trees indiscriminately, to be sold off as charcoal. With plantations of fuel wood available for
harvest, they need not go to the forests to cut trees, but rather cultivate and maintain their farms from which to
draw sustained supply.
Barangay Maguibway has been identified as a pilot site in Region 4-A along with two more areas in Regions
3 and 5. “Each agency has a role and own financial inputs for the project. There is close coordination among parties—our CENROs talk to barangays in preparation for the relocation, which is also what is being done by the DSWD, along with the briefing and orientation of the 200 families initially targeted as beneficiaries.” He says they also talked to the DAR
and the provincial government on infrastructure needs like farm to market roads, health centers, barangay halls, schools and electricity so that the beneficiaries will be able to establish a real community. “We want to give them the best chance
to start a new life here.”