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The environment and natural resources department has identified 29 areas to transform into "income-generating sites" to improve the lives of marginalized communities through the agency's AREA MANAGEMENT PROGRAM (AMP), according to its chief, Regina Paz Lopez.

The DENR chief said that through the AMP, the agency will make these identified areas self-sustaining in a well-protected environment, and with people happy because they are free from hunger and poverty.

"The AMP will provide alternative sources of livelihood that promote the preservation of the environment and natural resources," Lopez added.

Of the 29 priority areas, 13 are located in Luzon, 6 in Visayas and 10 in Mindanao.

The AMP areas in Luzon are Chico River and Mt. Pulag in the Cordillera Administrative Region; Zambales; Laur in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija; Sierra Madre in Cagayan; Sierra Madre in Nueva Ecija; Kaliwa Watershed in Marikina and Sierra Madre; Batangas Coastline and Verde Passage; Laguna Lake; Palawan; Sibuyan Island; Romblon; Occidential and Oriental Mindoro; and Sorsogon.

The priority areas in Visayas are the provinces of Guimaras, Antique, Samar, Bohol and Cebu, and the city of Iloilo.

Saranggani, Caraga-Cantilan, South Upi, Marilog, Mt. Hamiguitan/Mati, Talaingog in Davao del Norte, Rajah Buayan, Dinagat Island, Tawi-Tawi, and Lanao del Sur make up the areas in Mindanao.

The areas will be evaluated based on available resources, as well as needs and requirements, which will become the basis in determining possible livelihood opportunities similar to those in established ecotourism zones like the La Mesa Ecopark in Quezon City, and Ugong Rock and Iwahig Firefly Watching in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Following the convergence model, the civil society, academe, business sector, concerned government agencies and the community will be brought together to help build the model development areas.

Among the possible livelihood activities to be implemented in these areas are massive tree planting including hardwood and fruit trees; coffee processing and trading; bamboo propagation; manufacture of woodcraft from gemelina lumber and furniture from bamboo; and tiger grass farming and soft broom production. ###

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