The towering old growth Mahogany trees which were part of the old reforestation project of the government inside Sibalom Natural Park (SNP) has impressed Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu during his tour of the area, recently.  

Cimatu was the only Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) who visited the SNP and talked to the local people, whom he thanked for helping protect and conserve the natural park. Aside from the Mahogany trees, many native tree species could be found inside the Park.

In a meeting with the regional key officials of DENR Region 6 led by regional executive director Francisco E. Milla, Jr., Cimatu gave the tall order to conduct a deep study on the possibility of adopting the use of fast-growing trees to be planted in National Greening Program (NGP) areas. He also wanted that DENR field offices determine the number of growing/alive trees, and ordered the inventory of trees thriving within the protected area.

Prior to its declaration as a protected area, the Sibalom Sub-Reforestation Project was established in 1949 as part of the Valderrama Integrated Reforestation Project.

The Sibalom Natural Park is one of the last remaining lowland forests in Panay, where the endangered Rafflesia speciosa, was discovered in 2002. The flower has since become a symbol of the SNP. Secretary Cimatu have seen first-hand the natural beauty of SNP and is proud to know that both the DENR and the locals are working towards its preservation. Intensified Forest Protection is one of the top ten priority programs of Secretary Cimatu./DENR 6