Butuan City tries forest-based economy to halt poverty

Magno Ardenia, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 12 2015 08:58 PM

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 tress, 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 falcata 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 where falcata 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.