TACLOBAN CITY – A renewable energy company based in Eastern Samar said it will plant 4 million giant bamboos in Samar island’s protected area to provide livelihood to mountain residents and keep them away from slash and burn farming.

Benjie Picardo, president of Taft Hydro Energy Corporation (THEC), said the company will start planting the bamboos on February 2023 with 10,000 propagules in 50 hectares within the Samar Island National Park, a 333,300-hectare protected area that straddles at the center of the island.

He said the initiative is part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility and will implemented in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office.

“Bamboo is the most voracious plant in terms of carbon sequestration. I have no idea why we should not be promoting it since it is easy to grow and it spreads too quickly,” he shared.

Picardo said the bamboos will not only protect the watersheds but will also create a huge social impact as it will provide an alternate livelihood to the hundreds of residents who are cutting trees for charcoal making, which is their main source of livelihood.

He said the plan is to plant 4 million giant bamboos to cover 19,000 hectares of the protected area within the next few years. He added that the company is already undertaking a similar initiative in Bukidnon.

“The beauty of bamboo is it helps reduce global warming while creating a new industry that will give jobs to the people without harming the environment,” he said. “They can be harvested in four to five years and they further spread with new rhizomes even when you harvest them.”

Picardo said THEC is also planning to put up a factory for bamboo processing when the company has already planted two million propagules. He said this will not only generate more employment but will also increase the value of the harvest.

“Engineered bamboo can be used as construction material due to its characteristics, like its high tensile strength,” he added.

THEC is running a 16-megawatt hydro power plant in Taft, Eastern Samar and has started the construction of another 14-megawatt hydro power plant in the same municipality, which is targeted to be completed in September 2023. The company said it will also build an 80-MW solar farm in the same municipality in 2023. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail Dec. 26, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023 issue)