ENVIRONMENT Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said his department has set a target of planting bamboo over 16,867 hectares in 2020 in order to augment the country’s forest cover.

During the recent House of Representatives budget hearing of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mr. Cimatu said the agency’s Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP) will involve bamboo.

“We intend to make amendments in the ENGP to increase the country’s production of bamboo. The shift to bamboo would help improve the country’s forest cover,” Mr. Cimatu said.

Mr. Cimatu said that bamboo helps address climate change as it is a sustainable alternative to wood.

According to the DENR, bamboo absorbs greenhouse gases and produces 35% more oxygen than trees of equivalent size.

“The plant’s strong and extensive roots prevent soil erosion and landslides. It can hasten aquifer recharge in a watershed and is a source of food and biofuel in the form of charcoal and briquettes,” the DENR said.

Forest Management Bureau (FMB) Director Lourdes C. Wagan said the DENR and FMB plan to raise public awareness of bamboo’s benefits culminating in World Bamboo Day on Sept. 18.

“This recognition of the increasing economic value of bamboo, and its vital role in forest recovery and climate change adaptation and mitigation are the reasons the DENR and FMB are taking part in this annual event,” Ms. Wangan said.

The DENR is organizing bamboo planting events in Quezon City on Sept. 18, and the virtual launch of an advocacy group focused on bamboo awareness and development called Kilusang 5K (Kawayan, Kalikasan, Kabuhayan, Kaunlaran, and Kinabukasan). — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave