Village eco-warriors to guard watersheds

LAOAG CITY, Nov. 16 — The province’s local greening program “Pasantaken ti Ilocos Norte” has given birth to environmental warriors known as the Barangay Ranger Officers (BROs) who will guard and maintain watersheds and areas that are newly planted with trees.

The hiring of forest rangers was included in the greening program as part of the two-pronged approach of protecting the environment, through reforestation and creating employment in the process.
Florante Nicolas, information officer of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, said at least 500 forest rangers will be hired initially to guard identified planting areas in the towns of Solsona and Dingras.
He said more BROs will be commissioned in the coming years as the number of planting areas is expected to expand.
A joint project of PENRO and the provincial government, the local greening program is a take-off from the Aquino administration’s National Greening Program.
Juan de los Reyes, provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the employment of forest rangers is an innovation in the local greening program.
“This program targets the protection of environment and at the same time provides livelihood to the people,” he said.
De los Reyes said rangers will also be given training on seedling collection for identified seed production areas, propagation and production. The seedlings will then be sold to the national government to support the NGP’s “plant six billion trees by 2016.”
“The province will have its own supply of seedlings which are of better quality than those transported from other provinces. More often, seedlings coming other provinces are damaged by the time they get here,” he added.
For their services, the BROs will receive P3,000 in monthly allowances and communications subsidy worth P300. Their allowances will be taken from the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) fund of the provincial government. (JCR/CCA-PIA 1 Ilocos Norte/PENRO)