THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has successfully partnered with Kitanglad Guard Volunteers (KGV), Forest Foundation Philippines and Holcim Corp. to plant more than 300 hectares of coffee, abaca and bamboo as a sustainable agroforestry system to protect Bukidnon's Mt. Kitanglad.

"In spite of the limited manpower assigned in Mt. Kitanglad, the Protected Area Management Board has tapped the cooperation of the upland communities to spearhead the community- based park protection," said Daniel Somera, protected area superintendent.

More than 400 volunteers that form KGV now serve as contractors of the DENR's National Greening Program.

Somera said the KGV's park protection is also being reciprocated as they are given top priority in the provision of livelihood assistance.

A combination of agroforestry (planting of fruit trees, dipterocarp or broad-leafed tropical trees, and vegetables) and assisted natural regeneration has been implemented.

This resulted in the sustainable development of forestry area with 100 hectares of coffee trees, 100 hectares of abaca, 100 hectares of fuelwood trees, 100 hectares of rattan, and 50 hectares of bamboo.

The planting is all over 28 villages surrounding Mt. Kitanglad. DENR has also partnered with Holcim Corp. in planting coffee, cacao and rubber. The Forest Foundation Philippines and the - Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program also contributed to the plantation efforts.

Mt. Kitanglad plays a critical role in the replenishment of river systems that drain from Mt. Kitanglad. The rivers include Pulangi, Manupali, Cagayan and Tagoloan rivers in the North and Central Mindanao.