Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wasteful DENR Reforestations

When I was still working at the House of Representatives (HOR) from 1991 to 1999, I would attend many Committee hearings and among those that I followed in the early 90s was the implementation of various large-scale government (DENR, LGUs, etc.) reforestation of denuded uplands in the country funded by the ADB, OECF (Japan government), World Bank and other foreign aid bodies. The impression I got then was that there was huge money involved, there were lots of  reforestation projects with little or even zero monitoring if the seedlings indeed became trees, or the planting was only for photo-ops, submit reports and get the money.

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.

See also:
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

Terraces, Part 11

I went back to the farm in Bugallon, Pangasinan, last Friday, October 18. As usual, I do what I like doing most -- raising or extending an existing terrace, or build a new one. Last week, we raised the height of this terrace, this is in front of the rice field, not far from my treehouse. Before and after; Danny shown here. We raised it by almost one foot higher.

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.

See also:
Stone Terraces, Part 7, March 30, 2014
Stone Terraces, Part 8, June 03, 2014
Terraces, Part 9, July 07, 30, 2014 2014