Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kantipla's tree guardians show different face of reforestation

Kantipla's tree guardians show different face of reforestation
By Cris Evert Lato, contributor
Cebu Daily News
August 31, 2010

Danilo Villaban, 40, used to plant bell peppers and tomatoes to help earn for his family.

But the father of four welcomed the call for membership in the Kantipla Ecosystem Enhancement and Protection (Keep) Program and is a new protector of trees in Cebu's watershed.

"We ourselves have seen the impact now that the trees have grown. It's different. Our water supply is ensured," he shared.

Villaban and his fellow Keep members check the seedlings after these are planted by company volunteers of the Cebu Hillylands Reforestation Caravan, a program of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP).

Before planting time begins in June each year, they also clear the forests of weeds. About six people clear and dig holes for seedlings in every hectare of watershed.

Though Villaban and his friends are used to negotiating the steep hills, their job is no walk in the park.

"We also face problems from other farmers who still continue to do kaingin (slash-and-burn)."

But as a tree guardian, Villaban believes that he and his friends need to "let (other farmers) see what we are doing. We don't have any bad intentions."

Villaban helped volunteers from Taiyo Yuden Philippines Inc. plant trees on Aug. 21.

Taiyo Yuden's employees, led by general manager Takumi Utsunomiya and president Toshimitsu Honda, planted cinnamon and other indigenous trees such as taluto, bangkal, narra and tu-og.

An expert on Cantipla's terrain, Villaban said he enjoys the weekly visits of the PBSP forester, who checks the survival rate of the newly planted trees.

"We need to check the trees because if we don't, we cannot be sure if they are still alive. They help prevent landslides."