MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, April 9 (PIA) - The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Management Office (PENRMO) in this province has initiated a forest production project specifically aimed to address the common need for wood as fuel for poor households.

Started in earnest last year, with initial harvest of fast growing local species like Ipil-ipil expected in three years, the project, aptly named fuel wood production, has covered 19 hectares spread in 14 municipalities and one city, said Melay Labata, in-charge of forest services at the PENRMO.

The ideal set-up for the project was one hectare in a barangay per municipality and city, but four towns - Sogod, Libagon, Limasawa, and Padre Burgos -- could not find any space, so other LGUs have two or more hectares to compensate the shortage in area, Labata said during the Provincial Report cable TV program Tuesday.

The barangay concerned will be the one to maintain the project, as stipulated in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) while the provincial government, through the PENRMO, provided the site development and the seedlings, Labata said.

Eva Abad, head of PENRMO, disclosed that for this year, Libagon has joined the fuel wood production project after finding a suitable four-hectare lot.

Also for this year, Abad said that they will intensify the project by encouraging private landowners whose lands remained idle for years to join, so their untended lands be productive.

Abad said her vision will be for the local government units to replicate the initiative at their own levels to ensure a steady supply of fuel wood when wood gatherers will not cut just about anywhere but in the designated area solely for this purpose in the barangay .

This will also provide a sustainable livelihood to wood gatherers in the long run, Abad concluded.