18 February 2021, Siniloan, Laguna. What started with an initial partnership exploration in January 2021 eventually evolved into a bond by Bluestone, an Australian based residential loan specialist on its journey towards refining, strengthening, broadening and deepening their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitments to the environment. In order to kick-off this patronage, FEED was invited to attend a virtual “Sustainability Seminar” hosted by Bluestone on February 25th, attended by several Bluestone professionals in Australia and The Philippines, further pronouncing the company’s intent to support community-based planting interventions with FEED.
In Bluestone’s quest to provider greener home loan products to their primarily Australian and New Zealand market base, they decided to devote a part of their monthly earnings towards Ridge to REEForestation initiatives, starting with their first launch of the Bluestone-FEED Living Legacy program with the planting of 315 indigenous Philippine forest trees added to the over 9,000 hectares Laguna Quezon Land Grant (LQLG) in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, managed by FEED’s first and longest Living Legacy partner the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
A team of 5 of the 28 permanent forest guards and 1 Forester, field supervisor Reynaldo E Lorida, accompanied by 4 members of FEED’s team and 4 of FEED’s regular volunteers had planted the 315 trees in the morning, following a brief trek to the launched planting site. Bluestone’s forest site will be located further up the first of 4 main mountain ridges comprising the LQLG planting site, with the second planting to commence on 13 March with an additional 138 trees to be added to Bluestone’s forest site, thanks to 8 of the company’s Philippine team!
Thank you Bluestone! Thank you to BLUESTONE supporting the community livelihood, protection and conservation programs in place to protect the Sierra Madre mountains (forming part of the Sierra Madre Biodiversity Corridor or SMBC). FEED’s Climate Change Action Programs are community-based planting interventions ranging from:
- Watersheds: Upland agroforestry sites (protected rainforests managed by Bantay Gubat/Forest Guardians/AFP Jungle Warriors), to
- Mid-land: food forests (for and by public schools and remote areas far from market-access roads); and
- Sea: Lowland mangrove and coral plantings (in coastal areas with trained Bantay Dagat/Fisheries Cooperatives/La Union Surf Club, Inc.).
These Ridge to Reef programs endorse the management of waters from source to sea; “healthy and well-managed river basins and coastal areas where people and nature thrive, is the vision behind theInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) initiative”.
“Healthy ecosystems are ecological life-support systems. Lands and waters that function to provide goods and services that are vital to human health and livelihood are natural assets that are increasingly referred to as ecosystem services. These services can include clear air, high quality water, carbon sequestration benefits, and habitats that support a range of economically and ecologically valuable resources.” (Source: US Land Trust Alliance)
“Tropical forests have a valuable role in relation to climate change, being a source and sink of carbon…Carbon density ranges widely from less than 5 t/ha to more than 200 t/ha in the following order: old growth forests > secondary forest > mossy forest > mangrove forest > pine forest > tree plantation > agroforestry farm > brushlands > grasslands. Carbon sequestration ranges from less than 1 t/ha/yr in natural forests to more than 15 t/ha/yr in some tree plantations. Land-use change and forestry make an important contribution in the national emissions and sinks. It is estimated that Philippine forest lands are a net sink of greenhouse gasses (GHG) absorbing 107 Mt CO2 equivalent in 1998, about equal to the total Philippine GHG emissions.” (Source: Lasco, R.D. & Pulhin. F.B. (2013). Philippine Forest Ecosystems and Climate Change: Carbon stocks, Rate of Sequestration and the Kyoto Protocol, Annals of Tropical Research 25(2): 37-51)
The average number of trees per hectare (in agroforestry and/or industrial plantations) ranges from under 500 to over 2,000 depending on species and site. In this instance, with spacing of 1 square meter between each Philippine indigenous tree, according to Forester Rey Lorida, field supervisor of the Laguna Quezon Land Grant, this tropical tree plantation can sequester an average of 10 tons of carbon per hectare per year.
May the Forest Be With Bluestone Earth Keepers!
On behalf of our forest guardians, thank you to all involved for your outstanding support especially during this challenging Covid-19 pandemic, a critical moment in our history that compounds the seemingly insurmountable hurdles the world faces with climate change.
Congratulations to all at Bluestone who enabled this much-needed community-based support. As CSR Patrons of Education and the Environment, we thank you and hope that your support also inspires others to continue remembering our environment and the protection of our critical natural ecosystems.
Your CSR contribution provides much needed livelihood our forest communities need to ensure full survival of species planted, also enabling them to expand their own fruit and vegetable gardens for their own sustenance, as part of the master plan development of our protected forest.
About Bluestone “Our Story”
Bluestone is a fast-growing lender specialising in residential home loans. We have a team of over 275 professionals across Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. Bluestone started out as an Australian lender headquartered in Sydney in 2000. We manage over A$10bn in home loans for our Australian and New Zealand customers and have helped over 48,000 Aussies and 11,500 Kiwis with home loans that fit a wide range of circumstances.
Bluestone helps people with a variety of financial needs, whether they are looking to refinance, purchase homes or invest in residential property. Our solutions are popular not only with PAYG borrowers, but also self-employed borrowers who require alternative ways to prove their income, and residential property investors with complicated income streams.
The circumstances and needs of our customers are diverse – for example, some have a clear credit history and others have had a few financial hiccups. That’s why we have done away with credit scores and instead ask questions to better understand each unique situation. By assessing every application on a case-by-case basis, we can build a more accurate picture of personal circumstance and match home loans to different lifestyle needs.
GPS Coordinates of Bluestone Planting Site, 18 February 2021, Sierra Madres
About the Sierra Madre Mountain Range – Longest in the Philippines
The Sierra Madre a 540 km (340 mi) is the longest mountain range in the Philippines. Through the north–south direction from Santa Ana in the province of Cagayan to the north and Quezon province 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 Sierra Madres is home to native Philippine dipterocarp trees of the Hopea and Shorea family, orchids such as Dendrobium aclinia, the leguminous tree, Milletia longipes and a member of the citrus family, Swinglea glutinosa.
The forests are home to endemic lizard species such as the monitor lizard – Varanus bitatawa (common name: Butikaw), which the Aeta and Ilongot indigenous peoples use as a food source. The monitor lizard is one of the three frugivorous lizards in the Varanidae family along with V. olivaceus and V. mabitang. All of the three frugivorous lizards are found only in the Philippines.
Endemic mammals in Sierra Madre are the Sierra Madre shrew mouse and Sierra Madre forest mouse.
Non-Endemic Flora Species
Narra, the national tree of the Philippines, Almaciga, and Kamagong can be found in the Sierra Madre range.
It is important to note that lower portions of the Sierra Madre mountains still experience frequent and sporadic habitat damage and other forest-losses (flora and fauna) due to anthropogenic activities, such as logging and charcoal-making, often funded by outside “investors”.
Some outside informal settlers living at the lower portions of the slopes generally are supported by work in these logging and charcoal-making activities without permits. Some portions of the forest cover are already secondary growth forests, i.e. forests or woodland areas which have re-grown after a timber harvest, until a long enough period has passed so that the effects of the disturbance are no longer evident; whereas primary forests refers to untouched, pristine forest that exists in their original condition. It is estimated that forest degradation of at least 1,400 hectares per year is caused by illegal tree-cutting, slash and burn farming, fuel-wood collection, illegal hunting, and residential expansion – which if tackled sustainably and with the community can be averted, minimized and even optimized towards healthy and productive, sustainable social forestry practices. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sierra_Madre_(Philippines))
Long term survival is as critical as tree-planting is to sustainable reforestation programs, which is why all FEED plantings aim to achieve and have so far sustained survival rates of at least 85 percent of all species planted, making sure they thrive for future generations too.
The Laguna-Quezon Land Grant covers a 6,765-hectare property acquired by the the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) – FEED’s first and longest Living Legacy partner – by virtue of Republic Act 3608 of 1930, forming the larger part adjacent to the Laguna Land Grant in Paete, Laguna. Reforestation and biodiversity conservation remain the core focus of both land grants 90 years after its establishment, since majority of the remaining forest cover of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range is home to a last bastion for many species that have become endangered in other parts of the country.
Social forestry (SF) can be a part of a sustainable forest management (SFM) strategy to achieve environmental, economic and social objectives. “SF and SFM can be compatible because both recognize the importance of community participation in achieving sustainable use of forest resources. However, there is a gap in translating the SF concept to activities within the SFM approach and a lack of continuity. To strengthen the role of local communities in SFM through SF, there is a need for a platform enabling open discussion among relevant stakeholders, increasing awareness about the benefits of SF and securing adequate funding to conduct SF activities.” (Source: https://www.cifor.org/knowledge/publication/7647)
These are the holistic approaches FEED and partners adopt as a science-based, proven method towards enhancing community participation in all planting programs, whether from ridge to reef, up to and including nursery and forest establishment, protection, maintenance, (GPS) monitoring and reporting to ensure at least 85% survival of all species planted, as well as community empowerment in the conservation of our natural resources.
Thank you again to all Earth Keepers!
NATURE IS SPEAKING (Narrated by Julia Roberts)
What can I do to stop climate change?
“As the world warms, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense, sea levels are rising, prolonged droughts are putting pressure on food crops, and many animal and plant species are being driven to extinction. It’s hard to imagine what we as individuals can do to resolve a problem of this scale and severity.
The good news: We are not alone. People, communities, cities, businesses, schools, faith groups and other organizations are taking action. We’re fighting like our lives depend on it — because they do.
In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.” – David Suzuki
Check out some of the ways you can take more climate change action.
For example, Climate Action groups are the local solution to a global crisis. Right now people just like you are coming together to develop practical, local solutions and make their towns and cities more climate-friendly. Are you ready to join them? Find out what’s happening near you.
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.
Tree-Planting with FEED
© Fostering Education & Environment for Development, Inc.