The CALABARZON Region launches the Regional Development Council (RDC) Forest Park inside the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL) last June 25, 2022 at Sitio San Ysiro, Brgy. San Jose, Antipolo City, Rizal.

The said activity was held in celebration of the 159th Year of Philippine Forestry Service and Arbor Day. A total of 1,500 seedlings of Bani, Narra, Malaikmo, Lanete, Bitaog, and Batino were planted by 110 individuals from various Government Agencies and Private Sector Representatives.

Engr. Ladislao Andal, Co-Chairperson of the RDC IV-A, provided an overview of the Forest Park and shared the plans of the RDC for its development. He said “We hope that our Forest Park will be replicated in other areas, inside and outside CALABARZON, so we can contribute to the rehabilitation and conservation of our environment. We have to collectively help shift the intrusive mindset of the people from the destructive attitude towards our forest to rehabilitation and conservation, as well as encourage low-impact ecotourism, community-based non-timber enterprises, new research, and new and innovative forest products value-adding and facilitating market linkages, so our people will protect our forest rather than destroy it.”

The RDC Forest Park is a 25-hectare land divided into 24 parcels to be adopted by member agencies of the RDC IV-A for its sustainable management in the next 5-10 years. As per approved UMRBPL Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) Resolution No. 2 series of 2021, the forest park shall be established within the Multiple Use Zone of the Protected Area and necessary coordination with the stakeholders must be conducted while following the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area System (e-NIPAS) Act conditions.

The upland portion of the Forest Park will be planted with indigenous forest species while Dipterocarpaceae species will be planted in the lowland areas. Other parcels of the Park will be planted with fruit trees such as Mango (Mangifera indica), Calamansi (Citrofortunella microcarpa), Lukban (Citrus maxima), Lipote (Syzygium polycephaloides), and Kasoy (Anacardium occidentale). 

DENR CALABARZON Regional Executive Director, Nilo B. Tamoria, highlighted the contribution of the RDC’s project for the environment and the critical role of UMRBPL as the water source of the neighboring Region. Tamoria shared “Ang UMRBPL ang watershed na nasa bukana ng kalunsuran ng National Capital Region na pinagkukunan ng pang-araw araw na inumin at tubig ng kalakhan ng Metro Manila. Malaki po ang magiging kontribusyon ng proyektong ito sa pag-raise ng awareness ng mga ahensya at ang kanilang partisipasyon para sa pagpapanatili ng Upper Marikina. Hindi po natatapos ang commitment natin sa pagtatanim, dapat po ay atin itong balik-balikan upang mabuo at mabigyan nating buhay ang 25-hectare na Forest Park. Lalapatan po natin ito ng Development Plan para magkaroon ng malinaw na direksyon ang mga susunod nating hakbangin.” 

On the other hand, Ms. Rowena Zapanta, City Planning and Development Officer of Antipolo City, emphasized the importance of sustainability of the project. “Higit sa ating gagawin, importante ang sustainability ng ating pagtatanim... Bilin po ng ating Mayor to make sure that this activity will not be the first and last activity for this area at sisiguruhin na ang lead agencies ay mapapangalagaan ang mga punong itatanim sa 25-hectare na area”, Zapanta said. She also extended the pledge of support of the City Antipolo to the project. “Ipinapaabot po sa ngalan ng ating punong lungsod ang lahat ng suporta na kakailanganin para sa proyektong ito”, she said. 

Further, Assistant Regional Director Susana Santiago of the National Economic Development Authority of CALABARZON also pledged their support to the project. Santiago shared that they will involve the children of NEDA employees in their initiatives for the Forest Park to enlighten the younger generations on the importance of protecting and conserving the environment.

The said Launching was participated by various Government Agencies and Private Sector Representatives in CALABARZON including DENR IV-A, PENRO Rizal, RDC IV-A, NEDA Region IV-A, LGU of Antipolo City, DOT Region IV-A, DTI IV-A Rizal, DILG IV-A, DILG Province of Rizal, TESDA, Provincial Agriculture Office – Rizal, LISP, National College of Science and Technology, ICCT Colleges, and Santos Alaba Pelayo & Company. ###