Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tree-planting caravan kicks off

Tree-planting caravan kicks off 
By Candeze R. Mongaya
Cebu Daily News
June 19, 2011

Instead of waking up late on a Saturday morning, 16-year-old Amor Kris Sabay decided to do something different.

The  high school senior  of Liloan National High School discovered her green thumb as she joined 800 volunteers in welcoming the rainy season by planting native and endemic tree seedlings in sitio Cantipla, barangay Tabunan, in Cebu City.

“It’s a nice feeling to breathe  fresh air, unlike the usual city air,” she said  as she planted a narra tree seedling in the slopes of a six-hectare field in Tabunan.

The tree-planting activity kicked off the 2011 Cebu Hillylands Reforestation Caravan, an annual program of  the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) in the Visayas.

About 50 companies and other stakeholders joined the first of 18 Saturday mornings set aside for reforestation.

Volunteers are encouraged to plant trees in a designated area in Tabunan, which is part of the Central Cebu Protected Landscape also known as the Cebu Hillylands.

Seedlings of fruit-bearing trees  and vegetative plants for hedgerows were also distributed to participants.

Despite a downpour the day before, Saturday  was clear as groups of friends and co-workers traversed  rain-soaked slopes.

Sabay said she didn’t expect to enjoy the outdoor event  and being close to nature because she  had to wake up early and travel for an hour to reach the site.

“I look forward to doing this again,” she said after planting 20 seedlings.

Another volunteer, 32-year-old telecommunications engineer Edgar Alcarez, said he enjoyed the labor.

“It’s fulfilling, both emotionally and morally,” he said.

After the tree planting,  plates of  vegetable salad were passed around as  volunteers  munched on  lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and bell peppers.

The annual reforestation caravan had a new twist.

After lunch, four break-out sessions  were held for mini-lectures on on wildlife conservation,  birdwatching,  wildlife photography and identifying native plants and trees.

Nilo Aribas Jr. ,  a bird photographer of the Cebu Ornithological Society,  shared his experiences in taking photos of birds since  2003.

He said birdwatching is a good  bonding activity for family and friends although  Cebu City has only a few parks with a thriving bird community.

Cebu is the habitat of two endemic species, the rare Cebu flowerpecker and the black shama or siloy, both found in the Tabunan forest and the forest of Alcoy town, south Cebu.

This year’s reforestation caravan  targets 5,000 volunteers to plant native and endemic trees like Cebu cinnamon, narra , talo-to, bayog, magpuno, pangaton, lanotan, toong and tagi lomboy  until October 15.

Forester Orlyn Orlanes-Roxas said native trees  would easily survive because they are in their natural environment.

“The aim of reforestation is to bring back the forest and biodiversity, so you also have to bring back the many native species,” she said  .

Malu Largo, program coordinator of the PBSP Visayas, said yesterday’s group alone  planted  8,000 seedlings in a six-hectare area. Last year’s PBSP tree planting had a survival rate of 95 percent for its seedlings.