MAASIM, Sarangani – Power firm Conal Holdings Corporation on Thursday launched its agro-forestry project that will also serve as the company’s carbon sequestration program in the village of Amsipit in Maasim, Sarangani in the Philippines.

Conal Holdings chief executive officer Tirso Santillan said the project is the biggest of its kind and only the second in the country that is directly related to a coal-fired power plant project..

The power firm earlier announced it will build a Php 21 billion (US450-million) 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant in nearby Kamanga village in the same town.

Santillan said Conal hopes to set the agro-forestry project as a world standard for all projects that will impact the environment and the community.

“We are initially targeting 4,100 hectares for the project,” he said during the ceremonial planting of fruit and crop trees in Amsipit.

He said idle cultivated public and private lands will be planted with crop trees such as rubber, coffee and jackfruits to absorb carbon dioxide their plant would emit.

The project will eventually cover 7,500 hectares.

Santillan said the other carbon sequestration project similar to what they launched is the 500-hectare agro-forestry project of the 214-megawatt coal-fired power plant of STEAG in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

The project has an initial price tag of Php 350 million (US$7.5 million) but the company hiked its budget to Php 600 million (US$13 million) to provide residents in the area more livelihood projects.

During the project launch, the municipal government of Maasim also handed out individual property rights to occupants of the area that will be covered by the agro-forestry project of Conal Holdings.

Most occupants of the area targeted by the project are either public lands or declared as forested areas.

The Catholic Church here is opposing the power plant station citing environmental and health reasons.

The company however has repeatedly assured critics that it will employ modern technology that will capture particulates and other gaseous emissions.

Company officials said the agro-forestry project will address carbon dioxide emissions, one of the biggest contributors to global warming.

Construction of the power plant is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of this year.