MANILA - Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Friday said the national government is undergoing its "biggest policy shift" in terms of its planting efforts by prioritizing the propagation of bamboo over lumber.
The government's tree planting efforts go to waste when illegal loggers cut trees for lumber, but bamboo regrows even when cut, Cimatu said in a Senate budget hearing.
"I-maximize natin 'yung bamboo... Ito ang ating concentration ngayon," he said.
(Let us maximize the bamboo... We will concentrate on it.)
"Dagdagan natin ito, taniman natin kung puwede 'yung public and private [properties] mismo para hindi na tayo mag-rely masyado sa lumber sa bundok," he said, noting that there are now machines that can convert bamboos into lumber.
(Let's increase it, and if possible let's plant it in public and private properties so we do not have to rely much on lumber from the mountains.)
Before the "policy shift," bamboo only makes up 20 percent of the total number of trees being planted and propagated by the government.
That number will be doubled to 40 percent, Cimatu said.
As of last year, 84,000 hectares of land has already been planted with bamboo trees, DENR Forest Management Bureau Director Lourdes Wagan said in an earlier interview.
But Cimatu said that the success of the DENR's bamboo-planting program would not just "rely by hectares."
"Kahit hindi masyado malaki, basta punong-puno ng mga kahoy at mabubuhay lahat," the Environment chief said.
(It's okay even if we don't cover a lot of land, as long as an area is filled with trees that are all alive.)
"I will not accept below 85 percent survival rate," he said.