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Double bamboo plantations, mining firms told

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) – August 22, 2020 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Mining firms are now required to double their areas allotted for bamboo plantations as part of the government’s economic recovery program amid the pandemic.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, has ordered mining companies to allocate at least 20 percent for the establishment of bamboo plantations in mining areas.

A memorandum order in September 2019 instructed firms to establish and maintain bamboo plantations equivalent to 10 percent of the mined-out areas of contractors and permit holders.

The DENR ordered firms to establish an additional bamboo plantation equivalent to 10 percent of their declared final mining area to bring the total bamboo plantation area to at least 20 percent.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines welcomed the new directive as bamboo could  provide huge environmental benefits, absorb greenhouse gases and protect the soil.

“This offers opportunities for job generation and is a good substitute for wood in many applications, such as paper, furniture, and building materials. Mined-out areas can be planted with bamboo in cooperation with host mining communities as a potential livelihood source on a sustainable basis after the life of the mine,” COMP spokesperson Rocky Dimaculangan told The STAR.

“To maintain biodiversity, however, other plant and tree species should be planted as well as part of a comprehensive mine rehabilitation plan,” he said.

The MGB said there should be a memorandum of agreement between the company concerned and private landowners or people’s organizations to ensure that firms will monitor the growth of bamboo species planted with corresponding appropriate measures implemented.

It shall also not be covered by the existing expanded National Greening Program or any projects of DENR or any non-government organizations.

The MGB  has directed mining firms to submit the target area to be committed by contractors and permit holders for the establishment of the plantations.

Bamboo is considered as the “green gold of life” and “grass of hope” with its wide range of application and growing relevance. It is an effective tool in addressing soil erosion, landslides and flooding, which are the common disasters in any mine site.

It is also considered to have the highest potential for maximum benefits to the environment and livelihood as it can release up to 35 percent more oxygen than any other trees, sequester up to 12 metric tons of carbon dioxide per hectare and is the fastest growing canopy for the re-greening of degraded lands.

Aside from its use for furniture and handicrafts, bamboo is used in fiber, clothing, pulp and paper production, food ingredients, beauty products, architecture and construction.