Saturday, September 22, 2012

From Forestland to Grassland

Public forest land in many parts of the country is actually grassland, with very little forest trees standing, as a result of frequent and regular raid of trees by many people, of their illegal logging, or deliberate burning of grasses and trees then use the area for vegetable plantation or terraces.

Photos below are the mountains in Bugallon, Labrador, other neighboring towns of Pangasinan. I took these photos last August 31, 2012.

The government likes to borrow a lot of money from the mUltilaterals and some bilateral bodies -- the WB, UN, OECF, JICA, USAID, ... -- for various reforestation programs since the 80s or perhaps since the 70s. The result is almost always the same for many areas nationwide -- after money has been collected, taking care of the newly planted seedlings does not seem to happen. These seedlings and young trees can be killed by weeds and vines, by grassfire and/or lack of water; or by competing trees that are naturally regenerating by themselves and hence, deprive the younger ones with sunlight.

In my observation of denuded mountains, if people and/or the government want to see a thickly forested land someday, among the first things they should do is NOT plant trees but rather. Instead, they should free up the naturally regenerating trees from competition by huge and tall grasses, vines that choke the trees' trunk and branches.  Assisted natural regeneration (ANR) is seldom or hardly applied as contractors, including NGOs and rural cooperatives that were engaged by the DENR, want bigger budget per hectare. ANR means lesser budget per hectare.

The private farm that I help manage in Bugallon, a big portion of it is claimed by the DENR regional office as being "public forest land", photos below. Individuals and rice farmers' cooperative members started planting here. Many of them use madre de cacao or "kakawate" as planting materials. They were told to plant at 4x5 meters spacing, sometimes 2x3 meters.

The DENR and local government units (LGUs) are often so concerned with "tree planting, tree planting,... They often do not put enough resources and manpower at watching and protecting the naturally-regenerating  trees from being cut and stolen. Lower right photo, a man carrying an illegally cut or stolen tree from the public forest land. 

Will continue later...

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