REFORESTATION. A portion of Mahagnao Volcano and Natural Park (MVNP) in Burauen, Leyte. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is eyeing to reforest over 100 hectares of land that was converted to agricultural production inside the MVNP. (Photo courtesy of Burauen local government)

BURAUEN, Leyte – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is looking to reforest over 100 hectares of land that was converted to agricultural production within this town’s Mahagnao Volcano and Natural Park (MVNP).

Negotiations with farmers are now ongoing for them to give up the government-owned lands for regrowing of indigenous trees.

“The challenge is to encourage them to give up the farm since it is the source of their livelihoods. We have about 100 hectares of land planted with crops,” Crisostomo Badeo Jr., the MVNP protected area superintendent said in an interview Monday.

He said farmers agree that the lands they have tilled are in a protected area and not their own, “but the process of bringing back the land to its original forest cover is not easy.”

Among the indigenous tree species that are being targeted for regrowth are Manaybanay, Almond, White Lawaan, Tamayuan, and Tanguile.

This former forest cover converted to planting of crops is now covered for prioritization by the DENR’s National Greening Program.

“Slowly, we are converting back the place to its original forest cover through NGP. We are hopeful that in 15 years, we will see the result,” Badeo said.

MVNP is one of the 94 sites declared as protected areas under Republic Act No. 11038, known as the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018. The law provides the state policy "to secure for the Filipino people of present and future generations the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals through the establishment of a comprehensive system of integrated Protected Areas."

Proclaimed as a national park in 1937, the 341-hectare MVNP is endowed with different natural attractions -- a lake, falls, multi-colored mud, virgin forests, and a lagoon.

Mahagnao, located 860 meters above sea level, is 18 kilometers away from Burauen town. (PNA)