BEING host to two large-scale mining companies, the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya has maintained its greening program to protect and conserve its lush environment and beautiful mountain ranges.
No other than former environment secretary Gina Lopez appreciates the “beauty” of the province in one of her recent Facebook posts.
“It’s like a paradise. I wonder why many people do not know of the beauty of Nueva Vizcaya,” Lopez said in her Facebook post. She passed by the province by land transportation on her way to Manila on Saturday.
Lopez said she was “in awe of the beauty and splendor of the place. The mountains are lush [and]I find it breathtakingly beautiful.”
According to Gov. Carlos Padilla of Nueva Vizcaya, Lopez even called him up offering her help to preserve the beauty of the province.
The province is host to two of the four mining companies like Australian OceanaGold (Philippines) Inc. that operates the underground (shifting from open pit mining) Didipio Gold and Copper Project in the mineral-rich upland town of Kasibu. British FCF Minerals Corp. operates its surface mine Runruno Gold-Molybdenum Project in Quezon town.
The provincial environment and natural resources office (PENARO) continues to invest in its forest cover recovery as well as waste diversion, and keeping a tight watch on sand and gravel operations over small-scale mining alongside the big companies.
Errol Egoy, PANERO environment management specialist, said the provincial government has major environment programs that are focused on the management of watersheds, wastes and minerals, including related technical support to local government units (LGUs).
As of November, the province has accomplished its target to increase to a relatively large percentage its forest cover, waste diversion as well as full monitoring of mineral resources, particularly over sand and gravel operations.
According to Egoy, the watershed management program under the greening project has resulted in the establishment of at least 326.55 hectares for upland and urban forests, 163.46 hectares of upland agro-forestry, and 30.50 hectares upland rural development for an aggregate total of 521.51 hectares.
“In our bamboo plantation, we have established 223 hectares at the Lower Magat Eco-Tourism [LMET] Park in Diadi town out of our 400-hectare target,” he said.
Also under the program, the province has also produced 90,452 assorted forest and fruit tree seedlings, 13,667 of which were already distributed to partner-stakeholders.
“This is in addition to 630 Yakal tree species seedlings planted at LMET Park,” Egoy added.
Under the waste management program, the provincial government also continues to provide financial and technical assistance to LGUs in upgrading their respective material recovery and vermi composting facilities (MRVCF)
Because of the large volume of waste from the increasing population and establishment of businesses and industries in the province, environment officials said there is also an urgent need to update municipal solid waste management plans.
Former governor Ruth Padilla, wife of the incumbent governor, in her keynote address at the recently held culminating activity of the 2017 Environmental Awareness in the province has put emphasis on zero waste management.
“It has been my belief that we can never implement the province’s programs and projects if we are not going to protect our environment and our province,” Padilla said.
During her term as governor of the province, Padilla, who is an advocate of zero waste management, has pushed for the final passage of an ordinance, now the Nueva Vizcaya Environment Code.
“Tourism projects, social services and other programs are nothing if our environment will not be prioritized,” Padilla said citing a provision in the ordinance urging people of the province to help and participate in the protection of the environment.
Need to protect environment
She said the protection of the environment is a continuous undertaking since there are three large mountain ranges – Cordilleras, Sierra Madre and the Caraballo – surrounding the province, which have served as shields from disasters caused by heavy downpour, floods and typhoons.
“We need to be more responsible in the protection of the natural resources, the environment, and all other blessings that God gave to the province of Nueva Vizcaya,” Padilla said.
The PENARO in its mineral resources management has monitored at least 38 approved quarry sites and has issued 415 sand and gravel permits that contributed some P18 million in quarry taxes and fees to the province.
The province has also collected some P267.47 million from OceanaGold as initial payment of real and property taxes and other fees.
Meanwhile, Egoy said PENARO has been conducting legal training on environment covering 275 barangays (villages) and providing technical assistance to 15 municipalities in data gathering on community mapping, map interpolation and profiling.
The environment office is also working on proposals for the establishment of a large-scale bamboo plantation and establishment of wild food plants and wildlife.
Nueva Vizcaya’s main crops are rice, corn and oranges. The province also supplies on a daily basis Metro Manila, Baguio City and neighboring provinces with tons of vegetables. It is located about 200 kilometers north of Manila.