By Hazel Murray, Haribon Foundation Volunteer
Thirty two employees of QI Group of Companies enjoyed a day out at Haribon Foundation’s Buhay Punlaan site in Lumban, Laguna. Through Route +63, a social enterprise that aims to promote the Philippines and contribute to local development initiatives through tourism, it promoted one of Haribon’s conservation efforts as one of its eco-tourism destinations. The employees, as part of their annual Staff Social Responsibility program, took part in a number of hands-on activities at the native tree nursery and reforestation site. Here, native trees are grown from seedlings and transplanted to the forest area, and the seedlings produced in the nursery help pave the Road to 2020, a national movement aimed towards restoring our country’s heavily depleted forests.
This wasn’t the first time several employees have planted trees. They have taken part in tree planting at La Mesa and some expressed that they grow fruits and vegetables on their properties. “We planted eggplant, ampalaya, potatoes, and papaya,” Allen Binuya QI’s ERP Support Analyst shared. “We enjoyed growing them; it’s cheaper and it tastes better!” Other volunteers who have not tried their green thumb were motivated to grow native trees when they get back. “Not yet, but perhaps we could plant some on our [other] plot,” Joy Luciano QI’s QA Engineer said.
Forests are home to vast numbers of native (naturally growing in the area but may be seen elsewhere) and endemic (only seen growing in a particular geographic area) animal and bird species that have spent millions of years adapting to specific conditions. Deforestation disrupts natural cycles such as soil and nutrients cycle, water cycle and carbon cycle, and makes communities more susceptible to flood damage. Forests also hold a great many unlocked secrets; currently 25% of modern medicines use products from rainforests, and medical companies continue to look to rainforests for useful compounds.
Employees from QI were able to learn all this and more as they raced through the site to complete a quiz about forests (with a prize of course!). After the quiz, Haribon’s Forester Raz Ripalda took them on a Tree Walk around the site where they were introduced to some common, and not-so-common native trees at various stages of growth. In the final activity they took part in hands-on reforestation; mixing soil and bagging it ready for seedlings and some all-important weeding. Exotic or non-native species can pose a real threat to native trees, especially at the early stages of growth, and weeding, especially taking out vines that can choke young trees, is of vital importance at Buhay Punlaan. “I felt I saved a life!” one volunteer of the weeding activity proudly said. She definitely did, and the efforts at the site could not be done without the hard work (and sweat!) of people like her.
But Buhay Punlaan is not only about a day of fun activities away from the traffic and pollution of the city, it’s about a national movement towards the appreciation and planting of native trees. When asked what they could do to join the movement, many said they would plant seedlings in their backyard, and tell their friends and family all about the benefits of native trees and the forests they form. All agreed that they had a fun and enjoyable day at the site, and learned a lot.
Act. Make an Impact. Support Haribon. To join Haribon’s Adopt-A-Seedling, Nurture-A-Seedling programs, and Tree Planting Activities, call: +63 (2) 421-1209 and/or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to make a donation today!
Source: Rhett Butler. “Medicinal Plants” http://rainforests.mongabay.com/1007.html