The reforestation project of state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) in Lambunao, Iloilo has started to provide livelihood opportunities to the residents of its host community six years after its launch.
DBP president & chief executive officer Francisco F. Del Rosario, Jr. said that the DBP Forest project covering 500 hectares inside the satellite campus of West Visayas State University (WVSU) has reaped fruit-bearing trees such as durian, rambutan, lanzones, pomelo, tamarind and mangosteen. He added that more fruit-bearing tree and forest trees such as narra, mahogany, rain tree, acacia, ilang-ilang, bamboo, and kakawate are expected to yield fruits three to five years from now.
Del Rosario also said that 70 poor families are benefiting from a college scholarship program called the Progress through Economics, Socio-cultural and Agro-forestry Cooperation Extension and Development Program (PEACE) which gives farmers the opportunity to send a child to school in exchange for their work in planting trees and cultivating a portion of the reforestation project. He added that 34 Forestry students, who are scholars under the DBP Endowment for Education Program (DEEP), are also working at the forest site.
Conceived after the tragic flash floods that damaged Quezon province in 2004, the DBP Forest project was designed to help prevent similar calamities by restoring the country’s forest cover. It is also aimed at promoting livelihood opportunities for residents of host communities by planting high value fruit and forest trees. Funding for the program came from a seed fund from the KfW Interest Differential Fund and contributions from DBP borrowers.
Del Rosario said that to date, the DBP Forest project covers more than 6,000 hectares scattered in 36 sites. Of this number, 21 are upland areas covering more than 5,600 hectares, while 15 are coastal reforestation sites. Twenty of the 36 project sites are situated in Luzon, seven are in the Visayas, while another seven are in Mindanao. DBP partnered with different people’s organizations, local government units, and state universities in establishing these forest projects.
In 2006, the DBP Forest program earned the Most Outstanding Environmental Development Project award from the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP).
Forestry students enrolled at the West Visayas State University make their way to the DBP Forest Project site in Lambunao, Iloilo. These students are also scholars under the DBP Endowment for Education Program.