Wednesday, July 08, 2009

PBSP reforests Tabunan, preserves Cebu’s environmental heritage

The Cebu cinnamon tree, scientifically known as Cinnamomum cebuense but popular among locals as kalingag, is endemic to the island province. It is an important source of camphor and essential oils used by pharmaceutical and perfume industries. Locally, the bark of the Cebu cinnamon tree is boiled or just chewed directly to cure stomach ache while its aromatic leaves are known remedies for various ailments.

The Cebu cinnamon tree, however, is critically endangered. According to Global Trees Campaign, there were only 57 individual Cebu cinnamon trees when the project started in 2004 and all were growing within Tabunan Forest, the last remaining forest fragment in the Central Cebu Protected Landscape. By 2005, 691 species of the Cebu cinnamon were found in the southern Cebu municipalities of Alcoy and Dalaguete, although only 20 were considered mature. Moreover, the United Nations Environment Programme also included the Cebu cinnamon tree as a priority in its conservation efforts.

Because of its critical condition, the Cebu cinnamon tree was among the 11 indigenous tree species planted by the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) when it kicked off its 2009 Cebu Hillylands Reforestation Caravan last June 27, 2009 at Sitio Cantipla, Barangay Tabunan, Cebu City. An average of 30-50 seedlings were each planted by more than 200 individuals from 20 companies and institutions who participated the kick-off.

The Cebu Hillylands Reforestation Caravan is PBSP’s annual tradition that began in 1991 with the goal of sustaining Metro Cebu’s water supply. Every year, during the rainy months of June to September, PBSP brings employees, students and volunteer individuals to plant trees in the Cebu Hillylands.

This year, PBSP will plant 250,000 indigenous seedlings in 100 hectares in Barangay Tabunan. Tabunan forest is Cebu’s most important biological stronghold. Aside from the Cebu cinnamon tree, critically endangered wildlife such as the Cebu Black Shama and Cebu Flowerpecker thrive within Tabunan’s close canopy forest. The indigenous trees planted by PBSP, such as almaciga, bitaog, guisok,kalingag, karingatingam, lawaan, magtalisay, mancono, taguilumboy, tiga, and toog, will help preserve Tabunan’s biodiversity.

To help achieve this year’s target, PBSP’s invites at least 3,000 volunteer tree planters to join the caravan every Saturday until September 26. PBSP prepares the tree-planting sites while the volunteers shall provide their own transportation, food and water, and tools like trowels or bolos. The 2009 Cebu Hillylands Reforestation Caravan is in partnership with the Kantipla Ecosystems Enhancement and Protection (KEEP) Foundation and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Since 1991, PBSP’s partnership with the business sector has resulted to the reforestation of 950 hectares. Meanwhile, partnerships with the government, donor agencies and communities have reforested 3,500 hectares. Beyond reforestation, PBSP is helping 2,500 households in the Cebu hillylands through projects on farming, alternative livelihood, and basic social services.

For booking arrangements, please call PBSP at (032) 232-5270 or 232-5283, or visit the PBSP Visayas Regional Office at the 4/F PLDT Building, Juan Luna Ave., Mabolo, Cebu City. You may also email at mblargo@pbsp.org.ph.

Help PBSP do more for the Cebu hillylands. Join the 2009 Cebu Hillylands Reforestation Caravan!