ASPEN Philippines Achieves 14th Planting Ridge to Reef, Coral Propagation Awaits

29 November 2019, Siniloan, Laguna – Sierra Madre Mountain Range. Today was ASPEN Philippines’ 14th time to plant with FEED, being the only company to have carried out a nearly complete “Ridge to Reef” (R2R) planting (only lacking a Coral Propagation experience). R2R means “Managing Waters from Source to Sea – Healthy and well-managed river basins and coastal areas where people and nature thrive” – the vision behind the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN’s) initiative. Quote source: https://www.iucn.org/theme/water/our-work/current-projects/ridge-reef

Since 2017, hundreds of Aspenites from all over Luzon have gathered through their own chosen environmental advocacy to form a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaign to save the environment.  This CSR planting was back to where they initially started, in upland reforestation, typically the “easier” environmental intervention in the R2R approach. (See Related Articles below)

Image Source: science.ph

After arriving on site on time at 7:30 AM at the 9,000+ hectare Laguna Quezon Land Grant in Siniloan, Laguna, the 14 Aspenites grabbed some coffee and roamed the familiar landscape in the Sierra Madre mountains, where many of them had experienced their first planting, while others had experienced FEED’s mangrove plantings, Bio-Intensive Gardens and Food Forests prior. The site is stunning, situated in the first ridge of the municipality at 1,600 feet up where one has a view of the 4 next immediate mountain ridges heading towards the northern Sierra Madres, where they eventually connect to the Cordilleras. It is hard not to enjoy the scenery, the mist, the dark forest canopies that early in the morning, the only sound being the chirping of birds, wind rustling through the leaves and roosters cooing.

Following the typical status of Philippine forest briefing delivered by the LQLG field manager, Forester Reynaldo E. Lorida of UPLB, Anne-Marie Mananquil Bakker (FEED’s Director of Operations) shared more on FEED’s inherent need to involve the local communities in tree-planting programs across Luzon, citing the importance of having on the ground eco-warriors to maintain the minimum 85% to 95% survival of all FEED plantings; then Diane Penales (FEED’s VP Operations) delivered the Health, Safety & Security talk (safety hats, leeches and falling branches), and proceeded to conduct the warm up stretching exercises so everyone would be fit and ready to trek 45 minutes up to their planting site, where 1000 native Philippine forest trees were to be planted (that’s an average 66 seedlings per person!).

Suffice to say, after 13 plantings with FEED, it seemed the Aspenites were more than willing to plant, with an average of 1 minute per seedling (already situated in pre-dug standard spaced holes by our forest guards), and with the support of 15 forest guards, we completed the planting within 1 hour! Leaving us sufficient time to take the 45 minute moderate trek downhill again to base camp where the native Binalot chicken adobo meal was waiting, hot, steaming and ready to feed our hungry Earth Keepers.

Certificates of Participation were also awarded to each of the loyal Aspenite eco-warriors, in recognition of their contribution to taking climate change action.

CERTIFICATE OF PARTICIPATION, NOVEMBER 29, 2019 awarded to all Aspenites at Laguna Quezon Land Grant, Siniloan, Laguna.

Photo Journal

Thank you ASPEN Philippines Earth Keepers – May the FORESTS be with you all!

1Ace Itchon (absent)8Ma. Emmilou Jean Bilan
2Celso Avena9Roselle Almazar
3Myrra Mae Catarroja10Joey Santos
4Ana Sabrina Fresco11Emily Ebuna
5Crystal Alvarez12Mark Esperanza
6Maureen Romero13Maylyn Latap
7Patricia Ann Asi14Chinque Estole

GPS Coordinates of Planting Site, Siniloan, Laguna

Status of Philippine Forests

The forest area of the Philippines is estimated to have declined from 12 million hectares in 1960 to a current level of about 5.7 million hectares (which includes less than 1 million hectares of virgin forest largely confined to very steep and inaccessible areas). It is difficult to obtain accurate land use data as all areas over 18 degrees of slope are classified as forest regardless of whether any tree cover is present. The official figure of forest area is about 33% of the land area. As indicated above, this is not supported by other data.

Harvests have reduced from 6.4 million m3 in 1980 to 0.8 million m3 in 1995. The reduction has been the result of a number of factors including a Government ban on the export of logs in 1986, a ban on the export of timber in 1989, and a Forestry Master Plan introduced in 1991 banning the harvest of virgin forests. This level of harvest looks set to continue in the foreseeable future. However this harvest level is inadequate to support domestic demand and the country has moved from being at least self sufficient to being a net importer of logs and lumber.

Most remaining virgin forests have been given protected status, but many of these areas are in critical condition and remain threatened due to inadequate protection resulting from lack of funds and lack of political will.

Apparent roundwood consumption has fallen dramatically in the past decade giving credence to the possibility of the country’s forests being close to economic extinction.

In spite of these bans the rate of deforestation remained at about 150,000 hectares in the 1980s. Deforestation is caused by shifting cultivation, landuse conversion, forest fires, illegal logging and 40 million m3 of fuelwood harvested each year. Fuelwood demand continues to be strong, further exacerbating the critical position the forests are in. Fuelwood harvesting is believed to be seriously impacting on the remaining commercial forests.

In spite of this rather gloomy picture there are also some success stories. A total of 1.4 million hectares of plantation forest has been established with the Master Plan aiming to have additional plantations of about 3 million hectares by 2015, although this goal may be difficult to achieve….

While considerable progress has been, made this must be seen in context. The Philippines has moved from being a major exporter of wood in both raw and processed form to a country facing a significant shortage of supply.

The recent changes in forest policy conform to the increasing recognition that government decree and bureaucracy cannot achieve sustainable forest management, and it is only through and by the people who are affected that a long term solution can be found. The “people-oriented” approach is expected to continue to be the focus of policy reform.

In particular, consideration should be given to addressing the following:

  • The capture of forest rents and royalties
  • there is need for further reform, with records to be made fully auditable. Without the ability to audit the result, there is little confidence in the outcome from any party, and the system is left open to the plague of corruption that has existed in the past.
  • Greater education and enforcement of compliance in the area of forest conservation: simply prohibiting the harvest of forest products (wood or non-wood) does not cause the activity to cease. There needs to be greater education as to why these steps have been taken and greater enforcement to ensure they are obeyed. The education process in many cases will require exploration of alternative sources of supply or income for the people involved.
  • Re-examination of government policies that encourage the destruction of forest resources for whatever reason: agricultural production is the main concern here 2 and reform should promote improved use of land rather than simply relying on being able to clear more land.
  • Research to define the forest resources remaining and to show how best to manage them for the multiplicity of goods they are expected to provide: this research need includes such fundamental matters as forest ecology and management techniques, through to the need to understand the economic and sociological forces at work in the country. This complex web of dependency of rural communities on the forest needs to be understood and incorporated in policy initiatives.
  • Policy reform needs to take the people with it rather than be thrust upon them. As such the initiatives already taken to develop community based forestry programmes are the blueprint for future developments.

The country is unlikely to be able to complete all these tasks in isolation. It is thus imperative that expert assistance is sought to complement the work of internal agencies. The issue of sustainable forest management is not one that the Philippines must face alone. It is indeed an issue of international importance. To find satisfactory solutions to the complex problems being faced requires a spirit of cooperation, assistance and collaboration.

Source: http://www.fao.org/3/w7730e/w7730e0b.htm

About the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, Longest in the Philippines

Image Source: Researchgate.net

The Sierra Madre is the longest mountain range in the Philippines. Running in the north-south direction from the province of Cagayan to the north and Quezon to the south, the mountains form the eastern backbone of Luzon Island, the largest island of the archipelago. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the east. The Pacific coast of Luzon along the Sierra Madre is less developed as the lofty and continuous mountains form a bold and almost inaccessible shore, exposed to the full force of the northeast monsoon and the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Some of communities east of the mountain range and along the coast are so remote they are only accessible by plane or boat.

The country’s largest protected area, the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, is situated at the northern part of the range in the province of Isabela. The park is in the UNESCO tentative list for World Heritage List inscription. Environmentalists, scholars, and scientists have been urging the government to include the other parks within the Sierra Madre mountains for a UNESCO site that would encompass the entire Sierra Madre mountain range from Cagayan to Quezon province.

This and other mountain ranges serve as a typhoon barrier, attenuating incoming typhoons from the Pacific Ocean before reaching the central mainland. Source: Wikipedia

About Aspen Philippines, Inc.

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Aspen Philippines Incorporated is the first South African pharmaceutical company in the Philippines. It started operating in January 2012 with only a handful of employees. But after a few months, it has rapidly increased to over 100 passionate Filipino staff.

With the company’s immediate and continued growth, its commitment becomes stronger. That is to meet the healthcare needs of Filipinos by providing a broad spectrum of high quality, effective, and affordable pharmaceutical products so that ultimately, lives can be sustained one day at a time.

Aspen Philippines’ range of products initially comprises of antibiotic, anti-hypertension, anti-gout, anti-platelet and anti-hypothyroidism. But the company continues to expand its reach, acquiring global brands in consumer healthcare, which include Dequadin, Kwell, and Valda Pastilles.

Now that Aspen has made its mark in the Philippines, Filipinos can now take advantage of an improved means to healthcare right at their fingertips.

More here: https://www.aspen.ph

Related ASPEN Articles

Contact FEED

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 TreeBio-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: Video 

Check out the video journey by Clueless Commuter who planted with us last 24th of June 2017 to get a good idea of how FEED plantings go: https://youtu.be/KROn4rjVqBg

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Contact us at FEED for more details, to join our regular activities or to design your own CSR Programinfo@feed.org.ph or call/text +63 (0)917 552 4722.

© Fostering Education & Environment for Development, Inc.