30 September 2017, Siniloan, Laguna. Thank you to the following Students and Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE) for planting 240 native Philippine forest trees in Siniloan, Laguna – offsetting an estimated 240 tons of your carbon footprint in approximately 40 years time!
- Gregory Chen
- Cassandra Louise Singson
- Lourdes Fernandez
- Jennifer Catchillar
May the Forest be with you all, always!
Low forest cover in the Philippines : Issues and responses at the community level
By Peter Walpole
The Philippines is one of the most severely deforested countries in the tropics and most deforestation has happened in the last 40 years. Estimates place forest cover in the Philippines in the year 1900 at 21 million hectares, covering 70 % of the total land area. By 1999, forests covered 5.5 million hectares; only 800,000 hectares of this was primary forest. As illegal logging continues, the remaining forest is endangered.
The destruction of the Philippine forest was the subject of a recent study (1999), Decline of the Philippine Forest, by the Institute of Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC). This study traces the history of the decline, examines the causes and effects of deforestation, and discusses emerging perspectives. The study considers two possible Philippine scenarios for the year 2010. One assumes that meaningful steps will be taken to reverse the decline and offers some hope; the other scenario assumes that things will continue as in the past, and the outcome will be a continued national degradation of resources.
The Philippines is paying a high price for the destruction of its forests and a number of major problems confronting the nation can be traced directly to deforestation. Today, the country faces food insecurity due to soil erosion, which means depleted nutrients and low crop yield. In many provinces, at least 50% of the topsoil has been lost, and 70% of all croplands are vulnerable to erosion. The country’s climatic conditions are such that typhoons sweep the country an average of 19 times a year. The topography is mainly uplands with a slope equal to or greater than 18% and these areas make up 52% of total land area. In the absence of forest cover and with frequent heavy typhoon rains, soil erosion, mass wasting, and landslides are induced.
The Philippines is facing water insecurity because of degraded and poorly managed watersheds. More than 57 % of the major watersheds are critically denuded, which means loss of water infiltration and slow recharging of water tables. Nationwide, water quality has deteriorated and cities like Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Baguio, are constantly facing water shortages. A country that once exported some of the finest woods in the world is now a net wood importer.
The decimation of the forest is a tragedy for indigenous peoples. Ethnic groups become forced to retreat into the interior and further impoverished. Government is doing little to raise these people above their subsistence level. Some have left their lands, and the sight of indigenous peoples begging in city streets is not uncommon. They have lost their lands, and their culture has been degraded. With the destruction of indigenous cultures, the nation is losing a treasure that should be nurtured to enrich national cultural diversity.
This loss of cultural communities is closely linked to the loss of biodiversity. Tropical forests are rich in herbs, woody plants, birds, insects, and animal life. Destroying the forests means destroying the myriad creatures and flora on which the indigenous communities depend. Forest loss also means loss of forest products such as, rattan, resins, and gums, a source of livelihood for indigenous people. Wildlife is quickly disappearing and to date, the destruction of the ecosystems is taking a heavy toll on biodiversity: 18 species of fauna are already rare and endangered, while 43 species of birds are threatened with extinction…
In the Philippines, the promotion of Community Based Forest Management (CBFM), especially in degraded watershed areas, is imperative. People living in watersheds have a stake in improving them, and by so doing, contribute significantly to solving the water problem of the agricultural lowland communities and of our cities.
To what extent could planting trees help solve climate change?
“Forests play an important an important role in climate change. The destruction and degradation of forests contributes to the problem through the release of CO2. But the planting of new forests can help mitigate against climate change by removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Combined with the sun’s energy, the captured carbon is converted into trunks, branches, roots and leaves via the process of photosynthesis. It is stored in this “biomass” until being returned back into the atmosphere, whether through natural processes or human interference, thus completing the carbon cycle.
Tree planting and plantation forestry are well established both in the private and public sectors. The most recent data released by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation suggest that plantation forests comprised an estimated 7% of global forest area in 2010. Most of these forests were established in areas that were previously not under forest cover, at least in recent years. Trees are also planted as part of efforts to restore natural forests as well as in agroforestry, which involves increasing tree cover on agricultural land and pastures.”
In 2015, the Philippine government submitted to the United Nations the country’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The country committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030. The carbon dioxide reductions will come from the sectors of energy, transport, waste, forestry and industry.
Join us! Help us reverse the Earth’s “hothouse climate” tipping point.
FEED runs a number of Students and Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE); Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – such as mangrove planting for coastal protection or ridge reforestation plantings; One Child, One Tree; Bio-Intensive Gardens (BIG) for nutrition in public elementary schools and other spaces; Climate Change Survival 101 and other LIVING LEGACY programs – customised environmental engagement activities for individuals and organisations interested in contributing to climate change adaptation efforts and greening critical areas such as watersheds, ridges, and reefs that all require rehabilitation.
Tree-Planting with FEED
Check out the video journey by Clueless Commuter to get a good idea of how FEED plantings go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPC29Rwr6Pg
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