UN picks La Union boy as Young Earth Ambassador
Jun Elias (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2016 - 9:00am

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Philippines – A 12-year-old boy from a far-flung barangay here has been chosen by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) as its ambassador in telling the whole world the most pressing message at this time:  preserve the forest and save Mother Earth.

A son of a slash-and-burn upland farmer called in the vernacular as “kainginero,” James Daryll Rey, grade six pupil of Nagyubuyuban Elementary School, now carries the title of “Young Earth Ambassador” conferred by the UNFAO through the Yakap Kalikasan, a UNFAO-sponsored non-government organization, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 1.

As UNFAO ambassador, Rey will be sent to address multi-sectoral groups within the country and abroad to narrate how he successfully led the community, even at his young age, to take action for the preservation of forests.    

On Wednesday, Rey will be speaking before delegates of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Week Conference in Clark, Pampanga.

He is expected to share his initiatives in persuading his parents to stop their charcoal business, enlisting the support of his teachers, swaying local politicians to join his advocacy and leading the whole community to save the fading forest in their barangay.  

Paquito Moreno Jr., DENR Region 1 director, said Rey’s becoming the newest “ambassador” of UNFAO reflects the concerted efforts of people, including children, to save and preserve the remaining forest in the province.

La Union has 29,002 hectares of forest land.

From 2011 to 2015, 5,634 hectares were reforested with a total of 4,297,967 trees planted, according to the records of the National Greening Program of DENR Region 1.

Led by the child ambassador, the Kabataang Green Warriors, composed of youths whose parents used to be kaingineros, reforested the denuded areas of Barangay Nagyubuyuban.

At present, the group manages a mini-forest planted with ipil-ipil, narra and acacia.   

“We didn’t inherit Mother Earth from our forefathers. We borrowed it from our children,” Moreno said as he acknowledged the Kids-to-Forest-Program (K2F) of Yakap Kalikasan.

Moreno said Rey was a product of the K2F program that instills among children the importance of forests and encourages them to take action in preserving these for the next generation.

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