SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union: A 12-year-old boy from a forested barangay here will perform his first task as young ambassador before delegates to the Asia- Pacific Forestry Week Conference today (Wednesday) in Clark, Pampanga.
The son of a slash-and-burn upland farmer, locally known as kainginero, James Daryll Rey is a grade 6 student of Barangay Nagyubuyuban Elementary School here.
He now carries the title of “Young Earth Ambassador” conferred by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) through the Yakap Kalikasan, a UNFAO-sponsored non-government organization, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region I.
As a “ young ambassador,” Rey will address multi-sectoral groups in the country and abroad to narrate how he led his community to take action for the preservation and conservation of forests.
He is expected to share his initiatives to stop his parents in their charcoal business and getting the support of his teachers, and even local politicians, to join his advocacy and save the forest in their barangay.
DENR regional director Paquito Moreno Jr., said that La Union has 29,002 hectares of forest land. From 2011 to 2015, 5,634 hectares were reforested with a total of 4,297,967 trees planted, according to its National Greening Program record.
Rey led a group – “Kabataang Green Warriors” – composed of young people whose parents used to be kaingineros, and reforested the denuded areas of Nagyubuyuban. They are presently managing a tract of mini-forest planted with ipil-ipil, narra and acacia trees.
“We didn’t inherit Mother Earth from our forefathers, we borrowed it from our children,” Moreno said, even as he acknowledged the Kids-to-Forest-Program (K2F) of the Yakap Kalikasan describing it as “awakening and empowering the children for a sustainable environment.”
DENR, in coordination with the Don Mariano Marcos State University, selected eight schools located in this city’s upland villages as beneficiaries of the K2F program.
These are Sacyud Elementary School, La Union National High School-Sacyud Annex, Pao Elementary School, Pao National High School, Bangbangolan Elementary School, Bangbango-lan National High School, Parparya Elementary School and Nagyubuyuban Elemementary School. They will receive information, education and communication (IEC) materials and books.
The students will be exposed to interactive learning, video showing, lectures and discussion to further build awareness and instill an appreciation on the importance of forest management.