SINCE 2003, the Philippines has so far lost 328,000 hectares of its valuable forests brought by nationwide logging, mining, and many other practices. That’s the equivalent of about 2,600 basketball courts worth of endangered trees getting destroyed each day.
“Without these forests, Filipinos risk losing the source of their basic needs. The watersheds they provide ensure that our homes have clean flowing water. Without their ability to suck up carbon, our climate will continue to change drastically for the worse,” said Miel Loria, forester for the Haribon Foundation, a non-profit organization that specializes in nature conservation.
Through Haribon’s Rainforestation Organizations and Advocates or the ROAD to 2020 movement and other similar initiatives, this distressing reality is slowly turning around.
Under the movement, Haribon aims to restore 1 million hectares of Philippine forests by the year 2020, in the process protecting thousands of endemic wildlife and ensuring the delivery of food, water, and climate regulation for the next generation.
It accomplishes this goal through the re-establishment of native trees, such as narra, molave, apitong, and many other species, which are threatened with extinction. According to Haribon, these were chosen based on the needs of the forests’ natural habitat.
“Native trees are what thrive naturally in our original forests. They contribute greatly in providing a habitat for wildlife while restoring healthy ecosystems at the same time,” Loria added.
This is why Haribon encourage the public to plant trees, but with the right species to avoid altering the environment.
“Exotic species, or those brought from other countries, have negative impacts to the ecosystem. The leaves of Mahogany, for example, can change soil composition when it is absorbed making it less favorable for native plants and animals to thrive in,” the forester said.
The ROAD to 2020 is a partnership between concerned corporations and environmentally aware individuals. Corporate partners adopt patches of land that they restore for a minimum of three years. The current restoration sites in Laguna and Quezon were chosen based on the guarantee that all patches will be left to thrive for perpetuity for people to benefit from its ecological services.
To celebrate 42 years of fighting for nature and biodiversity in the Philippines, Haribon is calling on the Philippine society to join the movement. Get involved and visit the Haribon website at www.haribon.org.ph.