ILOILO – Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. is again recognized as the “champion of the environment” following the success of his flagship program that aims to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change in this agricultural province.
Outgoing Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje recognized Defensor anew as recipient of Kalikasan Award due to his “dauntless commitment to champion environmental governance, protection and rehabilitation thru his Action for Regreening and Transformation for Climate Change Adaptation (ART for CCA) Program”.
3rd District Board Member Lorenz Defensor received the award on behalf of his father from DENR Western Visayas Regional Director Jim Sampulna during the culminating activity of the celebration of Environment Month held at Amigo Terrace Hotel on June 29, 2016.
Defensor’s ART for CCA is conceptualized early 2011 with one goal in mind — to plant one million trees to replenish and resolve Iloilo’s dwindling forest cover exacerbated by rampant practice of slash and burn or kaingin and illegal logging.
Reduction of the occurrence of soil erosion and siltation, sufficient and clean water, and enhanced biodiversity are among the expected outcomes of the program.
From one million trees and 63% survival rate, the program is upgraded in 2013 by increasing the target to 1.5-million.
Defensor also incorporated the “ridge to reef” approach to revive Iloilo’s coastal resource, according to Senior Environmental Management Specialists Mitzi Peñaflorida of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office.
“The governor understands very well how important it is to plant trees. It is only through this and by changing our lifestyle that we can help protect and preserve our environment,” stressed Peñaflorida.
Quoting the study of the Society of Filipino Foresters, she added that each of us should grow 100 trees in our lifetime to compensate the .9 metric tons of carbon we emit every year.
Iloilo has planted 5,959,770 seedlings and 1,476,889 mangroves in its 42 municipalities and one component city since January 2011.
The seedlings were planted in designated areas in the province and were closely monitored by 2,343 Barangay Service Point Officers in 1,721 villages in Iloilo.
Defensor also made sure that Iloilo has enough supply of planting materials by establishing satellite nurseries in every district and by creating an executive committee that oversees and ensures the program’s success.
Aside from ART for CCA, the citation also highlights the governor’s other relevant environmental programs that immediately addressed the effects of El Niño phenomenon in Iloilo — development of watershed scorecards and monitoring protocol for watersheds, co-management of 300 hectares area in Maasin Watershed, and mobilizing the Bantay Gubat volunteers to ensure zero forest and grassfire occurrences in the province.