Saturday, November 29, 2014
A lazy road on Sunday, free roaming chicken eating anything on the pavement. Cemented barangay roads are also used by farmers to dry their palay/rice harvest.
A small basketball court on the new road.
This part coming from Atty. Guiang's old resort area, going to a creek...
This footbridge for people and motorcycles with no sidecar will soon be removed, to be replaced by a bridge that can accommodate even huge, 10-wheeler trucks.
Another view of the creek and the footbridge. Construction of the new bridge is said to start by January next year. For now and in previous years, vehicles and tricycles cross this creek. When there is heavy rain and flash flood, no vehicle can pass this creek.
Soon, even cars can enter the farm.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Year in and year out, decades upon decades, the cycle is repeated. Most or majority of DENR-implemented reforestation projects are wasteful. One example is the annual reforestation of degraded uplands adjacent to our farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan. Every year, no exception, there are tree planting there, for many years and decades since the 80s or even the 70s. And every year, the scene is the same -- degraded upland with more cogon and other tall grasses than trees. Most of the trees that survive are naturally-growing species and not planted.
Below are the "left-over" seedlings that may no longer be planted in the uplands. The DENR and its contracted cooperative or planters deposited these seedlings in our farm, to be transported and planted in the uplands. I took these photos last Friday, October 18, 2014. It is no longer advisable to do tree planting at this time of the year because the rainy season will end soon. The contracted workers who should carry these potted seedlings up to the hills and mountain simply pulled the black plastic along with the soil in it. They only carried the uprooted seedlings, so they will be lighter to carry. This practice immediately injures the roots of the seedlings and would endanger their survival in the harsh environment in the uplands.
The uprooted seedlings were either planted, or they may have been thrown away, no one knows except the contracted and paid workers. These were mostly acacia auri and kakawate or madre de cacao.
There are several hundreds, possibly a few thousands, of unplanted seedlings there. They will never be planted and even if these will be planted in the uplands, their chance of survival will be very low. The best months to plant would be in June-July as there are plenty of rains, allowing the seedlings to establish stronger roots and body. Assuming of course that the crawling and choking vines and tall grasses around them are cleared regularly.
I do not know how much money was spent by the DENR, or by some foreign aid agencies that give grants or lend money to the PH government to be implemented by the DENR and LGUs, for this project alone.
Really inefficient and wasteful way to spend taxpayers' money.
From Forestland to Grassland, September 21, 2012
Natural Regeneration of Trees, February 21, 2013
New Upland Dwellers and the DENR, August 21, 2013
Selective Logging in the Farm. February 03, 2014
DENR Nursery in the Farm, April 17, 2014
Tree Planting vs. Tree Growing, June 08, 2014
Nong Endring shown here. It's nice to see cleared terraces. The unwanted small mahogany trees (they grow too close to each other), grasses and vines were cut and piled as filling materials behind these big stones. Smaller stones support the bigger ones of course, behind them.
Now the medium and big mahogany trees can have more space, more sunlight after the unwanted trees have been removed. The area is also cleared of mosquitoes. These pests like dark places where sunlight can hardly penetrate.
In many parts of the farm, the trees just emerge and grow naturally, not planted by us humans. Trees are like grasses, they will resurface and regrow on their own, even in heavily denuded mountains. There is a need to regularly clear and cut those that are growing too close to one another. Lower photo, an acacia auri that was knocked down by the past typhoon about three weeks ago.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
The terraces are soil + water conservation measures combined. I notice that if the terrace is high and strong, it controls or even stops flash flooding. Instead of the rainwater coming down fast, it is stopped temporarily and impounded by the organic matter and soft soil at the back of those stones. As the rains stop, impounded water slowly goes out of the stones, creating a temporary water spring.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Last two weeks, some strong flash flood came and washed away, destroyed it. Nonetheless, nearly one foot of mud and eroded soil was trapped and controlled by the structure at the back.
I repaired it as Danny and Nong Endring were doing something else. The new structure. This time, more stones were put in the middle of a two-feet thick structure. It was cloudy when I took this photo.
This stone barrier was able to withstand the last flash flood. Lots of stones on the base, also deposited organic matter at the back.
The "long wall", left side.
Also three layers so far. Controlling topsoil erosion.
Even a deluge, Ondoy type of flooding will not be able to destroy this structure. Lots of big stones beneath, plus organic matter which have become soil already. Water from the flash flood will only pass at the top. The three layers slow down the flow and force of rampaging water. A big portion of the flash flood is actually trapped at the back, slowly sinks in after the rains have stopped.
This depression will soon become flat. The trees in this area grow faster. They have lots of organic fertilizers there.
Among the original stone terraces near the treehouse. Built in 2005 and still existing until now.
Our modest contribution at reducing soil erosion and flash flood.
Her name is "Jenny white" or Elle Marie would call her as "Requel" when the dog was still young. J.white has another sibling, also a female dog, black, we called her "Jenny black", who was guarding the farm. Jenny black died of a particular disease several months ago.
Danny, our part time caretaker, got two kittens, newly separated from their mother and are still sucking milk. Jenny white would give them her milk.
The two puppies were getting noisy in our house, I brought them to the farm. Danny got the white, Nong Endring got the black.
Anyway, Jenny white is a kind and gentle pet to share her milk even to cats.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Two friends and fellow participants from North Korea, 2nd and 5th from left. Choi and... forgot his name too. 2nd from right was Sokhan (Cambodia), and not facing the camera, Tony (Ghana).
These photos taken on our trip from Lund/Svalov (south Sweden) to Stockholm and Uppsala (central Sweden).
I think this is Marie Hardfors' (to my right) house. Marie was assisting Inger.
One of the beautiful gardens that we visited.
By the way, please disregard the date in the pictures. I don't know whose camera was used in these photos.
Sunday, June 08, 2014
The caretaker of the farm, Nong Endring Paragas and his two sons, helped me in the various tree planting every year. By 1993-1995, we were planting thousands of seedlings, we bought from nearby private nurseries, or we uproot naturally-growing seedlings of mahogany that were too close to each other and plant them elsewhere.
By 2002, we started limited harvesting of trees, those that grew fast from the seedlings we planted a decade before that, or trees that naturally grew on their own. I built my first treehouse that year. Two years after, early 2004, we demolished that small treehouse and built a bigger, two-storey, all wood treehouse.More trees were harvested from the farm.
We started selling a few trees for lumber early this decade as we have lots of big trees then. The small revenues were used to pay the monthly salary of the farm caretaker. Commercial harvesting was made in January this year.
Even after the selective logging, many trees, from small to medium size to big but crooked trunks were still standing. From February up to this month, we were selling lumber to local buyers, mostly barangay residents who were repairing their old house, or building a new one. Since we got official permit to cut from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) provincial office, there was no intrigue or harassment in the cutting of trees. The revenues were enough to pay the monthly salary of the caretaker and his son, Danny, who works part time in the farm to help his ageing father.
It is a perpetual forest with perpetual revenues, though not substantial.
Stealing and illegal cutting of trees in the public forest land is common there, and even in private farms if these are not guarded. Well, in many parts and provinces of the country actually. The thieves would cut trees for firewood, charcoal, or lumber for their house, or they sell the trees to other people. The daily presence of our caretaker in the farm turns away those thieves.
I tell some friends who are involved in various tree planting activities that they better do it in private lands and farms, not in government lands. Public forest land suffers from the "tragedy of the commons", where the land and the trees in it are owned by everyone and no one in particular, well owned by the government in the name of the public. Survival rate of seedlings to become big trees someday is almost zero. One or more weeks after the tree planting, nature takes its course -- vines choking the new seedlings, cogon and grasses that grow much faster than the seedlings; wild animals or cattle that step on newly planted seedlings; flash flood in rainy season that erode the topsoil; grass fire and forest fire during the dry season. If the seedlings survive all of these and they manage to grow tall to arms- or limbs-size, people who cut and steal trees as discussed above come in.
Thus, in most tree planting activities in public lands, it is 99 percent tree planting, 1 percent monitoring, if ever. Good for picture taking then posting in facebook. Tree planting, not tree growing.
In private lands where the owners or managers have private stake, it is the reverse; 1 percent tree planting and 99 percent monitoring; when some of those seedlings die for whatever reason/s, they are replaced. Until the seedlings become small trees, become big trees. Whether to harvest them later or retain them to grow even bigger and taller is another story.
The various reforestation programs of the government in public forest land is generally wasteful. I remember when I was working at the House of Representatives from 1991-1999, I was attending various Committee hearings and accounting for the millions of hectares supposedly reforested from hundreds of millions of dollars of loans from the ADB, WB, OECF/Japan and other foreign aid. Loans contracted in the late 80s, and the result were largely lousy. Lots of spending and government borrowings, yes. Lots of new forest, no.
And it did not stop there. New environmental and forestry loans were contracted in the 90s, in the 2000s until this decade, by the Philippine government from the same foreign aid bodies, and very little new forests are visible.
In the public forest land adjacent to our farm in Bugallon, there are tree planting activities there, yearly. And yearly, public funds are used, and no new forest can be seen from the public land. Either the reforestation money is wasted or stolen, or no efficient monitoring is done. Government reforestation is largely wasteful and inefficient, if not a milking cow for various implementers, from the government to the contracted parties, usually NGOs and farmers' cooperatives.
Ok, I may be harsh in my assessment above, but that is what I have observed for more than two decades now.
On another note, there is an International Free Market Environmentalism conference to be held in Georgia this coming July 23-26, 2014. Venue is Hotel Vera Palace, Bakuriani, Mountain Resort, Georgia. Bakuriani is about 2 1/2 hours by car from the capital, Tbilisi.
Selective Logging in the Farm. February 03, 2014
DENR Nursery in the Farm, April 17, 2014
Treehouse, Versions 2002 vs. 2014, April 23, 2014
Presentation at WASWAC Seminar at BSWM, DA, May 13, 2014
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Top view. How thick is it, well about more than two (2) feet at the base; medium size stones at the back, big stones, even small rocks, in the front. Then soil and small stones in the middle. At the top, about 1 1/2 feet.
Back/rear view. Danny standing at the front, height should be slightly higher than two feet.
On another side, a bit far from the treehouse, we added stones at this "blockade". Front view.
Back/rear view. This will soon be covered by soil and dried leaves brought down by flash flood.
We slowly demolished this old structure, from our old organic piggery project. Used the small stones to strengthen the above structure.
An old terrace. It's now flat, has trapped a considerable amount of topsoil and organic matter. Either we will raise it higher, or transfer the stones to the above blockade so that more and bigger area of topsoil entrapment can be established.
A terrace we expanded about a month ago.