Sunday, October 28, 2012

dead forest: Bilar man-made forest vs. Liptong Woodland

The air is unmistakably crisp.

Under the canopy of trees with their branches reaching for the sky (with rays of light piercing through), Bilar man-made forest appears to be the perfect reforestation project. The air smells of dead leaves. It’s also quiet, disturbed only by the occasional cars speeding off on the snaking road.

But if you close your eyes and listen intently, you will never hear birds chirping. No native wildlife. Look closely at the trees, and you’ll see that the growth of other species in the area is limited to a few. The reason? These mahogany trees being non-native are invasive to biodiversity.

Despite the good intention of the man who initiated the reforestation project fifty years ago, this man-made forest with its rows after beautiful rows of mahogany trees is a dead forest. Meaning, endemic species do not thrive in the area.

According to Prof. Sandra L. Yap of the UP Institute of Biology in an interview with the inquirer, she was told of the rationale for the Bilar-Loboc reforestation project: first, to serve as watershed and second, for the animals to return. They were able to succeed on their first goal but not with their second goal, Yap added.

The collective consciousness of environmentalists now is to not just plant trees of any variety but to plant native trees.

In Valencia, Oriental Negros a former slash-and-burn farmer named Tatay Ete (his real name is Rene Vendiola) has been leading a campaign to save the forest and to plant only endemic species. For twenty years now, he nurtures Liptong Woodland—home to many of the Philippines endemic and endangered trees. He was recently awarded Exemplary Individual by no less than Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) during RAFI’s 5th triennial awards. 

In Liptong Woodland, plant and insect life thrive. 

(part 1 of 2)

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