Because of aggressive road expansion, urban landscaping, and site reclamation, in addition to unawareness and disregard, native trees in the metro are fast disappearing. Today, few urban dwellers are familiar with native trees, which ironically, bear the name of many streets, villages or cities where they reside.
As a response to this unsettling trend, Haribon Foundation part¬nered with the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation (PTFCF) to raise awareness and encourage communities to acknowledge and appreciate the unique components, features and ecological benefits of native trees through the Tree, Trek and Tag, or 3Ts program.
The 3Ts program focuses on highlighting Philippine native trees in the urban landscape. It teaches participants the need to promote indigenous trees in the country, its unique features, as well as how to accurately identify a native tree by its leaf’s apex, shape and arrangement, seed, fruit, flower, and bark.
As part of the program, 20 participants visit the CCP’s (Cultural Center of the Philippines) Liwasang Kalikasan on February 6 to learn how to distinguish the features of various native trees through the guidance of Razel Ripalda, Haribon’s forester.
The said activity garnered interest from people of all ages who are not familiar but are curious about Philippine native trees and the elements that make them distinct.
For example, majority of fruit-bearing trees in the country are exotic or de¬rived from other countries. Duhat (Syzygium cumini), is our indigenous version of blackberries, an evergreen tropical tree in the “Flowering plant” flowering plant family “Myrta¬ceae” Myrtaceae. Its wood is said to be fire-resistant and can control the amount of rainfall that can lead to flooding due to its canopy-like shade. Remarkably, a lot of the younger participants have not even heard of the fruit or have even seen one.
Native trees have shown strength against formidable winds and flooding because of its premium quality wood. It’s been noted that during the super typhoon Yolanda, native trees were the ones that remained standing unlike its exotic counterparts. At the end of the session, the participants are enlightened and become more fascinated with native trees.
One participant shares, “The lesson in 3Ts reinforces my conviction that trees are very important especially in the urban areas where they can provide many benefits such as preventing floods, air pollution and mitigating adverse effects of climate change.”
Another eager volunteer says, “I liked the idea about species matching. I think this is a big deal if we are serious about planting native trees. Aside from raising awareness, it also tackles the economical, social and psychological value of planting native trees around us.”
Indigenous trees connect us with our environmental heritage. They support numerous life forms that maintain a symbiotic relationship with one another. Native trees species evolve over time in response to various environmental conditions such as climate, soil quality, timing of rainfall, drought, as well as interactions with the wildlife inhabiting the area. Native trees possess qualities that make them uniquely adapted to local conditions that provide lifelong ecological value to biodiversity.
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