Friday, February 22, 2013

Trees Colonizing an Abandoned House

More than two decades ago, the Millora family has a rest house on top of a small hill in the farm. The house is surrounded by many mango trees. The abandoned house has been taken over by various trees and vines. Just one more proof that to have trees again in denuded mountains, all we have to do is to allow the trees to regenerate by themselves.

This has been cleared several times in the past of trees within and outside the house actually. But the trees and vines simply keep coming back.  Here, usually ipil-ipil, molave, other species.

See here how the trees have conquered portions of the ceiling (ok, no more roof) and the floor.  They can protrude on small cracks on the floor, the cracks become bigger to accommodate the growing trees and roots. Nong Endring and his son Danny cannot cope with the fast growth of these trees and vines here as they have to clear other parts of the farm too, especially near the treehouse and the mango trees.

Another group of trees and vines on what used to be a portion of the roof.  And another tree on the floor of one of the bedrooms.  These trees and their roots would crack or break concrete floor and walls.
Clearing these alone would take several days.

Below upper photo, these new, small trunks actually regrew from the lower stems that have been cut a few years ago.  Within weeks, small trunks would sprout from the cut area and would grow bigger.

What used to be the veranda or porch.  And this has been partially cleared already, just a few weeks ago by Nong Endring and Danny.

Our three dogs are loyal companions to Nong Endring when he goes out to clear this and other shrubby areas. There some wild animals like snakes that may be hiding, the dogs would usually scare and chase these wild animals. Or at least bark loud to warn Nong Endring not to proceed yet.

Natural Regeneration of Trees

My usual advice to some young or new environmentalists who are so gung ho in "regreening" denuded mountains is that they do not have to plant so many trees in these areas. Trees being part of nature, are capable of growing and regenerating by themselves even without human intervention and "massive tree planting".

So the first thing they should do actually is to clear cogonal uplands and remove the vines on young or medium size naturally regenerating trees in the area. Then if there is wide space between or among these naturally regenerating trees, that is where they can plant a few seedlings. This process is called assisted natural regeneration (ANR).

In our farm, we actually stopped planting in the area near my treehouse for more than a decade now. And yet the trees keep expanding, the young trees grow by the thousands, they're like grasses. The bigger trees keep producing seeds, the wind blow them away and new seedlings will just grow nearby.

These young trees are dense, average distance of half-meter or less from each other, they just grew naturally and were not planted.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Attempted Illegal Logging by Greedy RE Agents

We started planting trees in the farm since 1992. Initially a few hundred seedlings that year. Then several thousands per year in succeeding years, but limited to a few parts of the farm. 

The Millora family, headed by the patriarch, Atty. Vicente Millora, a former Acting Governor of Pangasinan, former Assemblyman, former National President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), is selling 70+ hectares of the nearly 100 hectares of mostly upland and mountainous land. One of the agents he got was a guy with initials AM.

He went to the farm in late December 2012 supposedly with interested buyers. They surveyed the areas to be sold, the area around the treehouse is not among those to be sold. But he suddenly changed plan and told our caretakers there that he will come back the next week to cut all the big trees near my treehouse. He even marked the trees to be cut immediately, after Christmas. Photos below.

He told our caretaker, Manong Endring, that he will get 4 big trees for his house in Binmaley. And that Nong Endring can get some of the big trees, but they only report a few trees to be cut to Atty. Millora so that they can make more money. Nong Endring is not corrupt. He has been there in the farm since the late 70s I think.

Upon further discussion with Dra. Judea Millora, the eldest in the family, it was decided that all dealings with AM and other persons involved in the aborted illegal logging would be terminated. The Barangay Captain of Brgy. Laguit Padilla has also been informed of such attempted illegal logging. He said that he can contact Bugallon Police to apprehend any person who will cut the trees with questionable if not unauthorized "letter" from Atty. Millora.

Mr. AM has  not visited the farm since early January. But about two weeks ago, another visitor referred to by a lawyer friend of Atty. Millora came to the farm again and inquired about the big trees.

I do not own that land in the farm, I do not even have any formal contract with the Millora family in managing the farm. It's all about trust as they consider me a family member, I have lived in their house in North Fairview for about five years I think in the early 90s. Besides, I like farming too, though more as a hobby and  harvest a few food crops, see big trees that we planted.

So I would really feel bad if those trees are simply cut by those greedy agents and their supposed "buyers" of the land.

Trees in the Farm, Part 3

I went back to the farm yesterday, more photos here. These are mahogany trees near my treehouse, where a real estate agent was salivating to cut all the big trees only last month. In another blog post.

We planted these trees in this area sometime in 1993-94 I think, so they are about 20 years old now. Although we started planting in 1992, just a few hundreds of seedlings.

It's a hilly area so soil quality is not really good as topsoil can easily get eroded during heavy rains. But the trees have managed to thrive

We planted at an average distance of 2-3 meters apart.

This is the boundary with another private farm, owned by Mario.