ILOILO CITY, Philippines — The rehabilitation of the degraded forest land in Mount Apitong in Concepcion, Iloilo has earned another supporter after the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Palm Concepcion Power Corporation (PCPC) and the University of the Philippines-Los Banos Foundation Inc. (UPLBFI) on Friday.
The MOA signed by PCPC president Roel Castro and UPLBFI president and chairman, Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez Jr. calls for the rehabilitation of the 600-hectare property.
Prior to this, PCPC has entered into an agreement with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the provincial government of Iloilo and the municipal government of Concepcion for the rehabilitation of the degraded forestland within Mt. Apitong in order to improve its forest cover, restore the ecological balance, enhance biodiversity and water yield capacity of the watersheds of the mountain.
The rehabilitation project is part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities of the firm, whose coal-fired power plant in Concepcion has been operating for a year.
Under the agreement, the UPLBFI will provide PCPC the assistance and expertise to prepare the framework and the guidelines under which the rehabilitation of Mt. Apitong will be carried out.
“We decided to adopt and rehabilitate the 600-hectare Mt. Apitong but we are not expert when it comes to that. We have the commitment, we want to do it, but we want to do it right that is why we are collaborating with agencies and institutions that are experts with this field,” Castro added.
Specifically, UPLBFI will serve as consultant/advisor for the activities that PCPC will undertake in relation to the rehabilitation. The agreement will be for a period of 25 years.
Under the agreement, these include, the preparation and drafting of a master plan for the overall reforestation /rehabilitation program for Mt. Apitong; come up with the framework for the physical evaluation and analysis of the viability to establish tree plantations in Mr. Apitong and the possibility of combining indigenous trees and fruit-bearing trees in the mountain; assist in the establishment of tree nurseries to grow seedlings ; and assist and come up with framework for the training of the personnel and volunteers that will undertake the rehabilitation.
Further, UPLBFI will also facilitate the conduct of seminars and training for the information, education, and communication methodologies and strategies to ensure that the local community will not only participate in the rehabilitation of the mountain but also gain a stronger environmental awareness and assist in the monitoring and evaluation of the rehabilitation of the mountain through the reports prepared by PCPC.
The MOA signing was held at the PCPC Power Plant Complex in Barangay Nipa, Concepcion, Iloilo. It was signed in the presence of PCPC chairman Walter Brown, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr., DENR-6 regional director Jim Sampulna, Concepcion Mayor Millard Villanueva and UPLBFI Assistant Vice Chancellor Roberto.-Cindy Ferrer-PNA