Haribon Foundation’s Buhay Punlaan started out in 2009 to address the shortage of native seedlings needed in the restoration of rainforests in the Philippines. Since its beginnings, the 2-hectare nursery, has approximately grown 50,000 seedlings comprised of at least 50 tree species like Apitong, White lauan and Hagakhak which have extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the wild. It has hosted several batches of volunteers working at the native tree nursery, helping the seedlings to grow, and learning more about Philippine native trees.
Plans have been growing on making Buhay Punlaan more than an area to grow native tree seedlings. This is to give the seedling center an additional value in the conservation advocacy and making its impact more personal and experiential to the general public. This August, the Macquarie Group Foundation, an organization that helps in strengthening communities through financial support, volunteering and skills sharing, gave Haribon a Php 1.2 million grant to develop Buhay Punlaan as a living laboratory, learning center, showcase for biodiversity conservation and watersheds, and venue of volunteerism.
Lisa George, Global Head, Macquarie Group Foundation expressed that “The Macquarie Group Foundation is very pleased to help support Haribon’s work on the Buhay Punlaan project, given the organisation’s significant contribution to restoring the natural environment over the last 40 years. This support follows the great number of Macquarie staff in Manila who have become enthusiastically involved with the Haribon Foundation, including directly helping to plant trees as well as fundraising. The role of Buhay Punlaan in contributing to people’s understanding of forest restoration in the Philippines is an increasingly important one given the prevailing pressures on native biodiversity, and we look forward to seeing the progress of the ‘Living Laboratory’ as it develops.
Buhay Punlaan’s development plan is built upon its successes and strengths. With thousands of seedlings already housed in the area, Buhay Punlaan is an apt laboratory for native trees and biodiversity research. It could aid in restoration forestry studies and in managing and improving tree production. Generating knowledge from the area is also a way of documenting growth factor experiments on Philippine trees.
As a learning center, Buhay Punlaan can host training activities on biodiversity-friendly technologies such as rainforestation, sustainable agriculture, vermi composting and bio-intensive gardening. The practice-what-you-preach venue hopes to inspire and encourage the training participants to start, cultivate and sustain a greener lifestyle.
Based from years of experience on environmental campaigns, Haribon will be able to share through Buhay Punlaan their knowledge to the general public especially on biodiversity and watershed conservation. With the upgrade of existing edifices, signages and learning materials, people can pick up tidbits of information on forests and the ecological and social importance of trees through learning activities. One of those activities is the nature walks that highlight Philippine trees (supposed to be) prominent in the country’s forest scape. Part of the grant will also sponsor 20 session of the Biodiversity-on-Wheels Program as an environmental education for the schools and barangays in Caliraya and Makati.
Tree planting is neither the start nor end of rainforestation; there are several phases that need to be undergone prior to and after tree planting. Buhay Punlaan offers to interested volunteers nurturing activities so that seedlings will survive environmental stresses once transplanted in restoration sites. Nurturing activity in Buhay Punlaan is a great alternative for children, the elderly and those who are unable to climb mountains or do long-distance treks for tree planting. To encourage more volunteers to come to Buhay Punlaan, a bigger activity area will be installed as part of the Macquarie grant.
Sixty percent (60%) of Macquarie’s endowment has already been transferred to initially help out in the installment of the structures, creation of modules and trainings of community guides in the seedling center. Thanks to them, Buhay Punlaan can achieve its vision: to become an in situ laboratory to help out in protecting trees and preserving forests.
Buhay Punlaan is part of the Road to 2020 program which aims to restore 1 million hectares of rainforests by the year 2020. The nursery is located along the Lumban-Caliraya-Cavinti Road in Lumban, Laguna. For volunteer opportunities or learning activities in Buhay Punlaan, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.haribon.org.ph.