Thursday, December 8, 2016

25000 Trees - Reforestation Project

Steep planting-site terrain in Mt. Apo.  Wildings are collected by foresters in healthy areas, and re-planted.  

As a mountaineer – it’s hard to just sit pretty and relaxed when a favorite mountain was suddenly raged by fire – its forest decimated.  Like 140 hectares of it!
While it’s natural for mountain forest to ‘die and be reborn’ as part of its cycle, just like human-caused environmental issue like climate change – a human-triggered problem is best managed by intervention.  To accelerate rehabilitation, if not to totally cure it. 

If you have not visited or climbed tropical mountains in the Philippines – you wouldn’t witness how a small-scale slash-and-burn or logging – can affect denudation.  When grass occupies an area, there’s almost no turning back.  Grass can grow rapidly, and suffocates tree wildings (saplings) in their ‘area of invasion’. Overtime – they will encroach and expand, defeating the trees (and the forest) slowly.  If you’ve seen spectacular grassy area of some British isle, or Easter Island (Chile) – note that they all used to be a nice living forest.

Mt. Apo in Mindanao had experienced many fires in the past.  But the recent one, last summer – was caused by negligent campers.  Fire broke-out from the summit camp, and the prevailing wind simply ignited, burned, and cleared the forest down its slope.  It could have been more widespread but thanks to some fire fighters working for EDC (geothermal company operating in the mountain) – the fire was somehow controlled and the heroic action along the “fire-lane” (used as trail) prevented an even more catastrophic forest fire (in Cotabato side).
Showcasing my bouquet of... wildings! (there's 30 in this bundle), mostly Tinikaran native tree.

Now what do we do?

My group from UP Mountaineers decided to help a bit, and committed at least 25,000 trees.  Well, we’ll start with baby trees and not really bring tall trees!  Obviously, the program is under a bigger reforestation umbrella (thru EDC’s Binhi program) partnered with PAMB/ DENR (i.e. government’s environment department), of which only native trees are planted, and experienced foresters do the wildings collection.
Volunteer group from UP Mountaineers, EDC and Ateneo de Davao - after planting 1400 trees. 

Since September – we’ve visited or sent volunteer groups (only 3 groups so far, and more next year) and planted some 4000 wildings.  While the total doesn’t sound much – we hope that through this effort, we’ll be able to promote this conservation approach so other groups will follow through.  Or if not – then we can just perpetually visit the place to plant more trees.  Climbing to the summit is one thing, climbing with a purpose is something else.

So what now?  Go plant a tree today!

If you have an established outdoor group and interested to help (or donate) – email me romi.garduch (
Lovely flowery path in the early section of the 'EDC trail' (Cotabato side)
Proof of success. Tinikaran forest.  These trees were planted by EDC foresters some 20 years ago.
Blackened mountain.  An area engulfed by fire, on the way to the summit camp.
The wide trail serves as a fire lane. 
The mountain is still beautiful - let's keep it that way.  Trash from campers littered the summit camp. 
UPM team - it was also a good reunion. 
Nature fights back.  But let's help her and accelerate the regrowth. 
Very berries!  Saved from fire, a bush area in the summit camp.  

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