Did you know that 49 species of hardwood trees are indigenous to the Philippines, and that half of these can be found nowhere in the world but here?
The Red Lauan, Apitong, Hagakhak, Gisok, Mayapis, Tanguile and Bagtikan trees are among the world’s highly prized timber trees. They can grow up to 70 to 100 meters (210 to 300 ft.) high and are supported by magnificent buttresses.
Our native hardwood trees are not just beautiful—they can also help bring back the original flora and fauna of a given area, which makes them important in the conservation of biodiversity.
Beautiful and unique as they are, however, they are slowly disappearing on the face of the planet. The Philippines has only less than 10 percent cover or one million hectares of pristine natural forests left, and they are rapidly being deforested.
In addition, our forestlands have been reforested with non-native trees or introduced species that grow faster and can be harvested sooner. This has resulted to the decline of plant and animal diversity. Pests and diseases invade these exotic tree plantations and may eventually wipe out our entire reforested areas. In fact, farmers in the Kalinga and Leyte Provinces noticed that introduced trees can also cause soil to become acidic. In some cases, creeks and rivers have even dried up because these
exotic trees consume rather than store water.
This is why the Haribon Foundation, in partnership with 3M Philippines, advocates “rainforestation” or planting native tree species to restore the original biodiversity of our forests. Haribon sparked the Rainforest Organizations and Advocates (Road) to 2020, an environmental conservation movement that aims to restore one million hectares of Philippine rainforests using native tree species by the year 2020.
The movement aims to recover and conserve biodiversity, optimize our supply of forest benefits and ecosystem services, reduce the risks of natural hazards such as landslides, and enhance options for sustainable livelihood. Rainforestation provides ecological benefits, which are linked to human survival. This was first adopted and proved successful in Leyte and later adopted in other provinces such as Antique, Bukidnon, Mindoro, Surigao and Camarines Sur.
The overriding goal of planting back native trees in our forests is to promote a positive effort to address forest denudation and climate change. The Adopt-A-Seedling program, which is incorporated in the Road to 2020, supports nurseries established near identified priority areas for restoration such as geo-hazard areas and watershed areas where most of the seedlings will be planted.
3M Philippines, now on its third year of supporting Haribon continues its commitment to the environment and sustainable development. Over a hundred employees of 3M Philippines along with their families trekked up to the Sierra Madre Mountains of the Siniloan, Quezon side on November 16 to plant native trees.
“The partnership with Haribon best expresses 3M’s respect for the social and physical environment and our relationship with our customers and the community,” said Nene Amen, 3M Philippines vice president for Corporate Marketing and Business Planning.
“We aim to help restore one million hectares of Philippine forests. It’s not just about meeting the minimum requirement but going beyond that to achieve more. We believe in this cause that is why we are on our third year of tree planting.”
“Trees allow for the earth to breathe serving as a filter, absorbing carbon dioxide and release oxygen we all learn this early on in school. We encourage our employees’ children to come along our tree planting activities so they get can a real appreciation of this” says Sookie Chiongbian, HR manager of 3M Philippines. “We all have a role to play in protecting the environment.”
For more information about Road to 2020, visit www.haribon.org.ph, www.3M.com/ph or like 3M.Philippines on Facebook.