OpinionsGender BenderThe dream of a rainforest

The dream of a rainforest

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A DENR map showing the deforestation of Negros Island through the years makes dramatically clear what logging, population encroachment, kaingin, large monocultures, and other practices have resulted in: remaining forests as mere dots of green in 1987 and 1998 compared to a dominant sweep of green, except for coastal areas, in 1875.

Other comparisons show that from 17 million hectares of forest cover in Negros in the early 1930s, 7. 2 million hectares remained in 2004 but only 4.7 hectares in 2010.

By now everyone is aware of the cost of denuded landscapes: soil erosion, landslides, floods, sinking water tables, loss of habitat, and therefore, disappearing species, global warming, and all its threats.

And so it was balm for the soul to be at the inaugural hectares remained in 2004 but only 4.7 hectares in 2010.

By now everyone is aware of the cost of denuded landscapes: soil erosion, landslides, floods, sinking water tables, loss of habitat, and therefore, disappearing species, global warming, and all its threats.

And so it was balm for the soul to be at the inaugural celebration on Oct. 9 of the “Liptong Woodlands”, a project of two men with a dream, Rene Vendiola and Pol Carino, who, along with members of farmer federations, are working to recreate the rainforest that once was.

Just five short years ago, the project started with the gathering of wildlings of endemic and indigenous trees, and planting them out a year later on Rene Vendiola’s property and two years later, on Pol Carino’s adjacent farm.

What once were just names vaguely known or remembered such as apitong or kamagong are among the 200 trees and palms as well as other plants among which we walked on the rolling hills of Liptong, Bacong last Sunday, (noting that the very name of the barangay refers to a tree once plentiful in the area.)

Looking up at the taller trees growing well and quickly in this tropical climate made us realize that reforestation, or as Pol calls it, “rainforestation” is indeed feasible. (In my own experience, garden trees planted 10 years ago in what had been a one-tree cornfield in Valencia now need yearly pruning or they’d get much too tall.)

Liptong Woodlands aims to become a repository of endemic plants. The farmer organizations that with work with Rene and Pol are replicating the concept and expanding to other areas such as Lawigan in Bacong, Baslay in Dauin and Mantikil, Siaton.

And to provide farmers with additional livelihood, agroforestry species, fruit trees and ornamentals are integrated into the creation of new forested areas.

There’s a sense of healing the earth in this work, restoring some of the richness, natural beauty, and ecological health that has been lost through the carelessness, ignorance, and greed of our past dealings with the natural environment.

But the great insight of the day in Liptong Woodlands is that it can be done, and that nature repays such efforts by bringing forth abundant green life.

What will it take, I wonder, for local governments to catch on that this is the call of the day, serious “rainforesting” in public lands, encouraging and promoting the same through incentives, in private land.

Perhaps the time may yet come when those green dots in the DENR maps will multiply – think how much greener Negros can be when we can connect those dots.


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