Contributed by Carissa R. Caraig, TIEZA
PILAR, Bataan – The Mt. Samat Flagship Tourism Enterprise Zone (FTEZ) recently launched its forest and green management strategy with a tree planting activity at the identified agroforestry area of the Mt. Samat Shrine National Park.
In partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources- Community Environment and Natural Resources Office Bataan, the Mt. Samat FTEZ conducted a one-day tree planting participated by at least 100 volunteers. A total of 3,000 seedlings of Narra tree and 500 seedlings of soursop (guyabano) were planted by the participants.
The tree planting activity was organized as part of the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP) or Executive Order No. 193, s. 2015 of the DENR. It is also in line with the Comprehensive Tourism Master Plan (CTMP) of the Mt. Samat FTEZ. The CTMP includes tree planting strategies on specified components, elements and areas of each development in the Shrine Site to strengthen its ties with the natural landscape and environment of the overall TEZ.
The ENGP, on the other hand, aims to rehabilitate denuded forestlands, including national parks, watershed areas and reservations, to address climate change. Under this year’s provincial ENGP, a total of 81.71 hectares in the Mt. Samat Shrine National Park were identified for agroforestry development, which was the location of the tree planting activity.
Moreover, the ENGP also encourages greater participation from the private sector, local government units (LGUs) and organized upland communities. The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Municipal Government of Pilar, the Provincial Government of Bataan – Provincial Engineering Office headed by Engr. Enrico Yuzon, the Dunsulan-Banaba-General Lim Farmers Association Inc. (DUBAGENFAI), The Oriental Hotel – Bataan and LKY Group, and Pablo Roman National High School participated in the event.
As a non-government organization, DUBAGENFAI will help in the sustainable management of the developed plantations and protection of existing forests in Pilar.
Meanwhile, the activity will be the Mt. Samat FTEZ’s entry to the 1 Million Trees for 1 Bataan Challenge (1M41B) of the Provincial Government of Bataan.
“We still have fossil fuel economy, we have to clean our air, remove pollutants, and we can do that through massive tree-planting”, said Gov. Albert Raymond S. Garcia.
“The 1M41B is very millennial. We have to tap and engage them (Bataan folks) in this project. This is called crowd sourcing”, he also said.
“We are planning a series of tree planting activities in the Mt. Samat National Park to follow the mandate of our CTMP and also support the 1M41B program of Bataan. This is very timely as we are currently planning the development of the Mt. Samat FTEZ’s Veterans Forest, Fruit and Flower Grove and Bamboo Park,” said Mt. Samat FTEZ Administrator Francis Theodore B. Initorio.
“Through the tree planting activities, the forest character of the greater area of the TEZ will be retained as such to serve as expansive open space and view corridors resources for the Shrine Site,” added.
In line with the mandate of the national government to promote the sustainable development of tourist spots in the country, especially the cultural and heritage sites, the Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor was officially designated as a flagship tourism enterprise zone on February 27, 2017 through the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA). It also resulted from the inter-agency partnership of the TIEZA, the Provincial Government of Bataan and Municipal Government of Pilar, and the PVAO.