Perez, GJ; Comiso, JC; Aragones, LV; Merida, HC; Ong, PS (2020). Reforestation and Deforestation in Northern Luzon, Philippines: Critical Issues as Observed from Space. FORESTS, 11(10), 1071.

Among the richest in biodiversity globally has been the Philippine rainforest, which used to cover about 90% of the country's land area. During the last few decades, the forest cover has been reduced to less than 10% of the original, only a fraction of which is old-growth forest. The negative impacts of deforestation led to the launching of the National Greening Program (NGP) that involved the planting of more than a billion seedlings over a few million hectares of land from 2011 to 2016. To assess the success of the NGP, satellite data from Landsat and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) were analyzed before, during, and after the NGP. Reforestation in the NGP sites was examined concurrently with observed deforestation in Luzon using forest loss data derived from Landsat for the period 2001 to 2018. The results show that losses declined from 2011 to 2015 but increased from 2016 to 2018. Because of such losses, the net effect is a balance of reforestation and deforestation or no significant gain from the NGP. Case studies were done in three sites in the Sierra Madre forest, where half of the remaining old-growth forest is located, using a combination of Landsat and Very High Resolution (VHR) data. The Landsat data were classified into closed forest, open forest, and other vegetation cover types. The conversion from one vegetation cover type to another was evaluated through the use of the Sankey Diagram. While some non-forest types became open or closed forests, the loss of open or closed forests is more pronounced. VHR data reveal critical issues happening within the NGP sites during the NGP period. More comprehensive data from MODIS also confirm that there was no significant increase in the forest cover in Luzon, Sierra Madre, and Cordillera from 2001 to 2018.