Trees are always overlooked and ignored. For most of us who aren’t foresters, trees all look and feel the same. They’re silent, boring, and common, so they fall under the radar time and time again as we zoom to work or school on our paved streets and metal-enclosed vehicles and trains. They are just a colorful blur on the background.
Haribon hopes to bring these trees to the foreground with the “Road to 2020 Native Trees of the Philippines” advocacy. The project gives people an opportunity to “stop and smell the roses;” or in this case, to take a closer look at our trees.
Take for example the “Salingbobog” or the Balai Lamok (Crateva religiosa). Locally known as the Philippines’ own cherry blossom tree, Balai Lamok is a Philippine native tree that thrives in watersheds while proboscis-like stamens extend from its flowers of white, yellow and violet hues. Although the stamens aren’t used to suck blood, it definitely attract attention to this otherwise hard-to-find tree in the Philippines.
As for our rainforests, the White Lauan is part of a family of trees called Dipterocarpaceae or Dipterocarps. These families of trees make up 80 percent of the forests in the Philippines. Dipterocarps provide 75 percent of the available timber in the Philippines and all of them, including the White Lauan, produce a valuable resin that has many uses such as illuminants to caulking for boats.
Having trees in abundance and common in sight is the only way they can effectively be the earth’s carbon dioxide absorbers. Thousands of trees are needed to hold water during heavy rains, controlling potential flood levels from fatally affecting communities. Their numbers also prevent vast amounts of soil from slowly leeching into our oceans, strangling marine life at the world’s coastlines, taking away our fish sources.
Road to 2020 is Haribon’s overarching native tree campaign, dedicated to “rainforesting” Philippine forests with native trees. Why? Because native trees are the only shelters and sources of food that all life—from animals to insects and from plants to humans, have adapted to for millennia.
By learning more about the green areas outside of our homes, we slowly begin to appreciate it more. And our focus on the rather drab, colorless, and gray buildings we blindly replace our green areas with will shift to the more colorful and alive world we’ve lost sight of: our local trees and the diverse life they hold among them, also known as “biodiversity.” Ironically, the lives they also hold is ours.
To learn more about the campaign visit www.tinyurl.com/haribon-balai-lamok; www.tinyurl.com/haribon-pili-tree; www.tinyurl.com/haribon-white-lauan.
1. “Crataeva Religiosa” by Contezza.com.
2. “Philippine Native Trees 101. Up close and personal.” 2012. Hortica Filipina Foundation, Inc., Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy.
3. “Salingbobog” by Stuart Exchange. http://www.stuartxchange.com/Salingbobog.html
4. “Plywood (lauan, meranti, serai)” by Rainforestrelief.org.