Other Viewpoints

by Juan L. Mercado

Sao Paulo State University research showing that  tree seeds now  are significantly smaller  (“Shriveled  Seeds”) triggered comments.  Was this due to unchecked hunting of fruit-eating birds?  The issue is  increasingly “common in  tropical areas around the world.”

“More people  should  take note” what  Fr. Peter Walpole,  at  Environmental Science for Social Change, calls the “phoenix forest” (here), forester Patrick Dugan emailed.  “They’re  real.  “Phoenix forests” are all around us.  Everywhere.  They’re  a source of hope, within the grasp of people.

“Nurturing  these “phoenixes” restores  forest cover faster, and at lower cost. Traditional reforestation approaches report only  30 percent  success rate. The flip side to that  is  70 percent failure.                

“Fr. Walpole offers  “Assisted Natural Regeneration”. “Forests restored via ANR are made up of many species. (This) avoids “monoculture” risks that marred conventional reforestation projects. ANR is a practical way to restore bio-diversity.”                           

“Few are aware the Philippines received  the Edouard Souma award from FAO for ANR accomplishments.  Danao, Bohol shows how well can ANR work.” FAO hosted an international workshop at Danao last year that drew more than 20 ASEAN participants. Danao declared their town as the country’s first ANR municipality .   

“When forests are gone, we’ll become  the Haiti of Asia, “ emailed Walter Paul  Komarnicki from Cagayan  de Oro. .”We’d be unable to feed ourselves  or maintain security. (That’s)  a failed state”. But “Imonredneck” retorted: ‘The Philippines is already the Haiti of Asia. Look at its geopolitics.”

From  Canada, Josh Alexi  wrote:   “Toronto went on  a tree planting mania 15 years  back.  Now our city  is green.  We pay  tree cutters  to trim branches and clear power lines. Fly over  600 square kilometer city.  Toronto is green, clean and beautiful.”

For more than 30 years, policy makers  introduced, various foreign species for reforestation, Aspirin200 recalled.  These included South America’s large leaf mahogany to Africa’s gmelina aarbore.

None succeeded. Why?  Because, they  aimed solely at  producing revenue. When trees reached merchantable height and diameter, they were clear cut mahogany for lumber to mollucan sau for  pulp and paper.  These shoved us back to where we started 30 years ago.

There was no effort to plant endemic dipterocarp and other premium species. Despite 30 years of failure, DENR hews to the inutile approach. It   even allows export  of raw or semi-finished reforestation species. 

Focus  on non-commercially viable species. You won’t need battalions  of forest guards. Except charcoal makers, none is  interested in mala bayabas to toog (baringtonia).  Hinterlands of Rizal, Laguna and Zambales could best showcase this effort.  In highly visible area, like North Luzon Expressway, plant highly sought after narra to dao, almaciga.

Like Cebu, “ Makati has one of the lowest number of standing trees.”  Jojo Binay could start planting  belatedly,  Makati  may emerge  as  urban environmental renewal model.  The “Ganito Kami sa Makati” boast would then  be palatable.

Pope Francis flies to Cebu City in January 2016, notes the column “Beyond the Deadwood” (PDI /June 01).  He’ll attend the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. Francis’ simple life style and emphasis on attention to the poor are rippling out. 

Over four million attended  Pope John Paul’s Luneta mass  in January  1995.  Francis has similar drawing power. His visit could help  a church where some bishops “too often close in on [themselves] instead of looking outward.”

“See? The Pope  focuses on is what is essential, Virgo Yap writes. “Often, our prelates and  followers are entangled by  the peripheral,  such as the RH law. Go to the heart of the Gospel message by helping the poor and the deprived. But many times, this is what we evade”.

Will  the high and mighty will again  occupy the front seats, “Cato the Younger” foresees.  Will they have some token poor in the soirees. After the pageant, balik sa dating gawi? “If the Pope is looking for a servant’s heart among the princes of his flock here, he’ll be disappointed.”

The 53-year old  beggar looks a haggard 80. Naty does not fret about Senate presidencies. (“Perennial Irony”/PDI May 25).  What matters is food  scraps and anti-TB  medicine.   But what about other Natys? Almost 3.9 million Filipinos experienced hunger this  March.

“Notice how chubby the kids of our politicians are?, “ asks  Moonworshipper. “They have drivers, maids and bodyguards and attend  private schools. Do  they  notice the  hungry at all? When they grow up, they run inherit the dynastic positions of their elders. Would they suddenly  strive to end hunger which they’ve never known all their lives?

“Those who produce the food are often the ones who suffer hunger the most”, Chloroform writes.  “Traders/middleman” cash in. Our laws thumb down direct buying from farmers”.  But “why single out a few?”, retorts  Tgm_Erick.  “The economy is booming —  only for those who engage in big businesses. Increases in GNP hasn’t  trickled down to the lowest stratum. And many  politicians were  not  rich when they began their careers. 

Aside from emergency food aid, government should offer an uncultivated piece of land to  poor families so they can raise poultry, plant fruits,
vegetables, etc. corn or rice, writes Tra6 Gpeche.  “Pork barrels should be abolished. Instead, these should help those willing to learn farming other  trades.” 

(Email: juan_mercado77@yahoo.com)

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