Forest rangers are coming!

LAOAG CITY, (Nov. 23) — The provincial government of Ilocos Norte in cooperation with the Provincial Environment and National Resources Office (Penro) is hiring 200 indigents to serve as barangay ranger officers (BROs) to protect the 2,000 hectares of reforested lands in the province from illegal loggers and kaingineros , officials said.

“The idea started last month after the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Program of the provincial government conducted a tree-planting activity in support to the National Greening Program,” said Juan “Johnny” Delos Reyes, PENRO officer of Ilocos Norte.

The MDG program of the provincial government was created in 2010 to improve the quality of life of indigents. One of its goals is to ensure environmental sustainability.

Delos Reyes said that these BROs are needed to watch over the province’s forest areas, especially during summer season when kaingin activities usually grow in number.

He further said the province’s forests must be protected since Ilocos Norte has the largest forest cover in the region with 73,946 hectares or 29 percent of the 189,000 hectares of total forest cover of Region I.

“They (BROs) will not only serve as forest watchmen, they will also undergo trainings on seedling production and vermiculture production. Other livelihood trainings will also be given to them,” Delos Reyes added.

Meanwhile, according to Edwin Cariño, MDG program head, each BRO will receive P3,000 monthly honorarium and a prepaid cellphone card allowance from the provincial government.

Cariño said a BRO must be male, an indigent, a beneficiary of the MDG program, must know how to plant seedlings, and hardworking.

With the hiring of 200 BROs, the Penro Ilocos Norte projected that by 2016, the total forest cover in Ilocos Norte will increase from 29 to 68 percent. (ANL/APT-PIA 1, Ilocos Norte)