DENR uses new system to monitor tree planting program
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has adopted the powerful technology of geo-tagging in monitoring the progress of the government’s massive reforestation program.
DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said the Department has started the use of the geo-tagging system in monitoring the progress of the National Greening Program (NGP), which aims to cover 1.5 million hectares of land with trees from 2011 to 2016.
Paje said incorporating geo-tagging into the NGP would “ensure the integrity and correctness of the accomplishment being reported, particularly on the survival aspect of the program.”
“Owing to the centrality of transparency and accountability in NGP’s implementation, it is without question that the authenticity and accuracy of accomplishment reports coming from the field should be assured,” Paje said.
Geo-tagging is the process of attaching coordinates and other location-specific information to pictures and videos, usually with a handheld device such as a camera or mobile phone that is enabled with global positioning system or GPS.
DENR has invested significant resources to purchase geo-tagging equipment and train over 300 forestry personnel on the use of the technology that utilizes GPS and web-based mapping to allow real-time monitoring of NGP locations, especially on getting accurate count of trees planted and their conditions.
Paje noted that accurate maps of planted areas and their accessibility were two major elements lacking in past government reforestation programs.
“Even in far-flung areas, where the NGP employs peoples’ organizations do tree planting as part of the livelihood aspect, the technology gives us the capability to accurately and easily locate, validate, monitor and manage projects in remote and conflict-affected areas,” Paje said.
Geo-tagging would also help in monitoring seedling growth and mortalities for replacement with new seedlings in NGP sites.
He said that with the technology, NGP accomplishments can now be easily tracked not only by the DENR management but also by the public who can access the program’s geo-tagging monitoring system through the agency’s website http://ngp.denr.gov.ph.
“All reports are sworn to before a notary public before these are submitted to the DENR central office, making the concerned regional officials accountable for the accuracy of their reports,” Paje said.
From 2011 to 2013, some 683,069 hectares of the NGP sites, or 46 percent of the 1.5 million hectare target, have been planted, with more than 1.2 million jobs generated.