Tourists Help Regreen Catanduanes

Visitors to the island province of Catanduanes can enjoy its natural allure and, at the same time, make a meaningful share in nurturing Mother Earth.

This, after the provincial government adopted a unique program that provides tourists the opportunity to plant trees during their stay in the province.

Provincial Tourism Head Carmel Bonifacio-Garcia said the undertaking, called "One Tourist, One Tree," encourages foreign and domestic tourists to plant a tree in areas identified by the provincial government.

She said the program was incepted in 2015 to help promote responsible and sustainable tourism in Catanduanes by incorporating the tree-planting activity into the itinerary of the guests, as well as sporting events.

She added that the undertaking also intends to support the programs of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) aimed at reforesting the archipelago to mitigate the impact of climate change. The province is listed by the DENR as among the country's most important biodiversity areas.

In the past four years, some 1,280 trees have been planted at Mount Cagmasoso in San Andres, Pag-Asa Radar Station in Bato, Puraran Beach, and in Balacay Point in Baras, Carangyan Beach in Pandan, Simamla Breeding Station, a government facility in the capital town of Virac.

In addition to tree planting, the province is also undertaking environmental measures to ensure the carrying capacity and sustainability of the tourist spots.

Catanduanes takes pride in its 60,000 hectares of forests considered as the largest green patch in the Bicol region, which includes the Watershed Forest Reserve, the 1,500 hectares of old- and second-growth forests, and vast abaca plantations, which are home to various wildlife species.

It is the Philippines's top producer of the abaca fiber, which is celebrated in the annual Abaca Festival every summer.

In the east of the Bicol peninsula, Catanduanes is a booming destination for its powdery beaches, unspoiled islands, enchanting waterfalls, panoramic viewpoints, marine sanctuaries and surfing areas, topped by the iconic Puraran "majestic" spot in Baras, which hosts international tournaments.

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