Lunhaw Awardee calls for more tree growing activities in the watershed

March 25th, 2015 by

DAVAO CITY – This year’s winner of the Lunhaw Awards for the Best Agro-Forestry Initiative called for an intensification of tree growing activities along the watershed to reverse the damage caused by widespread agriculture development in the area.

“Today’s celebration of the International Day of Forests is an opportunity for us to emphasize the importance of forests and of trees outside our forests.”, said artist-teacher Ric Obenza.

Obenza, together with the Kalapati group of artists, is famous for his art and ecology workshops which have spurred widespread community initiatives on tree planting and rainforestation projects in Baguio, Calinan, Marahan and Marilog districts.

“Trees are essential in regenerating our watersheds. They absorb carbon dioxide and mitigate the impact of global warming brought about by excessive use of fossil fuels. They cool down our rivers and maintain water quality by preventing soil erosion”, he said.

IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes credits Obenza’s tree planting initiatives as instrumental in creating pockets of mini-forests in a watershed that is being encroached by plantations.

“His mini-rainforest parks have become buffer zones against banana and pineapple plantations, protecting communities from toxic pesticides and providing habitats for local wildlife to flourish.”, she said.

The Lunhaw Awards recognized Obenza’s soil generation technique and innovative rainforestation methods which have stopped the desertification of upland areas previously cleared for logging and plantations. His use of native trees and organic methods of farming have revitalized the forest land , allowing local animals and plants to survive and providing a source of forest products for communities to economically benefit from.

Worldwide, global deforestation continues at a frightening rate. The United Nations estimates that around 13 million hectares are destroyed annually, accounting for a 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

In the Philippines, changing land use policies in recent decades have opened up forest land to industrial agriculture and urban migration. This has resulted to the decline of the dipterocarp forest cover in the watersheds – a situation that Obenza hopes to arrest by engaging more community stakeholders in rainforestation activities.

“Our conscious turnaround from nature exploiter to environment steward is pivotal in reversing environmental degradation, habitat destruction and biodiveristy extinction. The call of the hour is to ‘Think globally, act locally’. Everyone should do their share by nurturing a tree.”, Obenza said. (MINDANAO DAILY MIRROR)

Riparian Forest planned at watershed

August 1st, 2014 by

DAVAO CITY –   The  Watershed Management Council (WMC) and its member-organizations are planning to set up a riparian forest corridor at the Tamugan- Panigan watershed that will connect the watersheds to the city’s coastal areas.

A riparian forest is the area of land and vegetation immediately next to bodies of water such as streams, rivers, or lakes, said Mary Anne Fuertes, head of Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), the non-government organization representative of the project.

“Riparian forests help in filtering wastes, they absorb that instead of the runoffs from the uplands going to the river or water supply,” Fuertes said.

She added that apart from the ecological development of the watershed, riparian forests also serve as livelihood opportunities for communities in the area who will also be their partners in developing and managing the forest corridor.

“Ecotourism can flourish in the forest corridor. There can be barangay parks, picnic areas, and there are species of trees that can be used for livelihood,” added Fuertes.

Riparian forest corridors also attract different endemic wildlife, she said, both in the forest areas and the bodies of water they will be connected to, encouraging wildlife diversity.

The setting up of the riparian forest corridor project has no schedule yet, she said, but stakeholders from the immediate community  also met yesterday at Lispher Inn in Juna subdivision for the implementation planning.

“We want to meet with the schools, barangay leaders, to determine what is feasible for everyone,” she said.

The Foundation for the Philippine Environment has set aside P2 million in two years for the project.

“This is not solely for the river banks projects. But with that amount, there are plenty of projects that can be started,” Fuertes said.

Additionally, Fuertes said there are five “Bantay Bukid” volunteers set for training this year to monitor the areas.

The volunteers will be coming from the barangays located around the Tamugan-Panigan Watershed, such as Tambobong, Tamugan, Wangan, and Wines.

The volunteers will join the 42 Bantay Bukid personnel trained last year, and Fuertes said they are compensated through provision of insurance, and equipment for their work in the area.  (Salud Isabel Petalcorin, MINDANAO TIMES)

Eagles fly for Lunhaw Awards 2014

July 22nd, 2014 by

DAVAO CITY – Coming off from the success of last year’s fundraising activity for the Lunhaw Awards, this year’s edition of the Flight of the Eagles, Davao’s annual 40-km fun ride cycling event, continues its support to raise funds for the award-giving activity which recognizes green initiatives in Davao City.

With the theme, “Bike Safety: Share the Road”, this year’s route will start from Magsaysay Park at 7:00 am and will end at the Malagos Watershed Park near the Philippine Eagle Center.

Cycle for Life convenor Monica Ayala, one of the co-organizers of the fun ride, said that the theme was selected in order to highlight the advocacy of the bicycle enthusiasts  in Davao City.

“Cycling is a practical  activity that most Dabawenyos should take part in because it doesn’t emit carbon fumes which pollute our urban air.  This makes it one of the best ways for anyone eager to do their own share for the environment because it reduces one’s own carbon footprint.”, Ayala said.

Lunhaw Awards Co-Organizer Mary Ann Fuertes, of the Interface Development Interventions, said that the Awards Organizers were pleased to be one of the beneficiaries of the 12th Flight of the Eagles fun ride.

“This will go a long way in providing funds so that the Lunhaw Awards can recognize more deserving green initiatives in Davao City.”, Fuertes said.

Other than the Lunhaw Awards, funds from this event will also go to reforestation initiatives in the  Talomo-Lipadas area, which the annual activity has been supporting for the last ten years. A part of the proceeds will also go to the installation of bike racks in Magsaysay Park.

Registration fee is at Php 500, inclusive of jersey shirt, lunch pack, and raffle ticket. Pre-registration is open until October 4, 2014 at the Office of Councilor Avila at Room 212, SP Building, San Pedro St., Davao City.

The activity is organized by the Cycle for Life, Davao City Water District (DCWD), Federation of Off-Road Cycling Enthusiasts (FORCE), Interface Development Interventions Inc. (IDIS, Inc.), Philcycling, Office of Councilor Leonardo R. Avila III, Watershed and Environmental Protection Coalition of Davao (WEPCD), Watershed Management Youth Council (WMYC). Various Cycling organizations from Davao City and Region XI will also participate in this event. (#)

Environmental groups: Spare trees along Dakudao Avenue

April 25th, 2014 by

ENVIRONMENTAL groups opposed the proposed plan to cut down the trees along Dacudao Avenue, the only major thoroughfare in Davao City shaded with mature trees, insisting that the idea is “too extreme and alternative options have not been explored.”

In a statement sent to Sun.Star Davao, the Interface Development Interventions (Idis) said such proposal was revealed by City Environment and National Resources Office (Cenro) Forester Chris Asibal during the Rainwater Harvesting Forum organized by the Idis and the Davao City Water District on March 24.

The planting of falcata trees that line up Dacudao Avenue was an initiative of a civic organization sometime in the early 1990s.

According to Asibal, the City Engineer’s Office (CEO) plans to remove the trees to improve the main drain canal which is situated at the aisle of the road.

“They plan to improve the canal so they filed a request to remove the trees. As Cenro technical officer, I recommended not to cut down the trees because the avenue is the heart of the city which gives us fresh oxygen,” Asibal said.

He also revealed that the CEO is also planning to replace the trees with other plants.

However, he said replacing trees would be “wasteful.”

“Once trees reach 10 years or more, their capacity to absorb pollutants and carbon dioxide is increased,” he said.

“There is a need to assess the area; they can replace the over-mature and defective trees but not all. The structure of the canal can just be improved so that it can stay and serve longer,” he added.

Idis executive director Ann Fuertes also called the CEO to cease its proposal.

“Dacudao Avenue is the only major thoroughfare in Davao City shaded with mature trees. It is in stark contrast to the rest of Davao’s major streets which are all concrete and asphalt; all the more we should preserve it,” Fuertes said.

“It is extremely short-sighted to sacrifice what little greenery we have at the expense of a little convenience.

She said she recommends the CEO that “instead of cutting the trees, they should remove the silt and accumulated waste in the canal so that the run-off will not overflow in the lower lying areas.”

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industries Inc. (DCCCII) former President Sofronio Jucutan, who also attended the forum, pointed out that the main drain canal does not need any improvement because it can sufficiently handle the run-off coming from Bajada and Buhangin.

As a matter of fact, he said that when the University of Southeastern Philippines (Usep) sent their engineer to study the problem, he found out that there is no problem with the structure.

“There is no issue with the canal; the issue is with the outlet, right after the overpass. So the plan should be reassessed and whenever possible, wag putulin ang kahoy,” Jucutan said. (Arianne Caryl Casas, SUNSTAR DAVAO)

Groups urge DA to stop GM Rice production

April 22nd, 2014 by

AFTER a court banned the field trials for the genetically modified eggplants in the country, environmental advocates are now calling the Department of Agriculture (DA) to halt the production and commercialization of the genetically modified crop “Golden Rice”.

The golden rice is a new type of rice that contains beta-carotene, a source of vitamin A. It is a variety of Oryza sativa rice that is being developed through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene as a potential new food-based approach to improve vitamin A – which has been a serious health problem globally.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 250 million children suffer from vitamin deficiency. It also said that around 250,000 to 500,000 children go blind every year due to malnutrition with half of them dying within a year after being blind.

Reports said the golden rice is now undergoing multi-location field trials in different sites in Luzon. It needs to pass several tests before it will be commercialized. However, a lot of people are not convinced on genetically modified crop.

Go Organic Mindanao (GOM) coordinator of the Social Action Center Diocese (SACD) of Marbel, Fr. Joy B. Pelino, in a media briefing on Anti Go Mindanao Organic (GMO) Rice at Hue Cafe – Ateneo Business Center on Tuesday, said there is no proof that the golden rice is really good for the health.

“There’s no sufficient data in terms of its safety. In fact, independent studies revealed that there are possible negative effects from the rice on human health. This will also contaminate the natural diversity of island’s native rice varieties,” Pelino said.

Mamamayang Ayaw sa Aerial Spray president and Go Organic Davao City (GoDC) member Dagohoy Magaway also said that if the golden rice will be introduced into the markets, there is a significant risk of the genetically modified gene crossing over to the indigenous varieties, destroying the purity of the organic rice farms.

Diego dela Cruz Jr. from the Masipag Mindanao said aside from the risk of the genetically modified crop, the farmers will also face problem on companies of the modified crop taking control of agriculture at the expense of poor farmers.

Sr. Nelda L. Balaba, of the SAC-Marbel, added that they believe that there are other ways to resolve the issue on vitamin A deficiency. She added that there are a lot of organically farmed vegetables that naturally contain beta-carotene.

“Marami pa namang pagkain that contains vitamin A. Hindi naman necessary ang golden rice just to solve the issue on vitamin A deficiency. So our position is to stop the field testing, production and commercialization of the rice,” Balaba said.

The groups claimed that eating genetically modified organic product could cause new allergies in people.

The fact that the crop has not been tested on human, Geonathan Barro, advocacy officer for Masipag Mindanao, added.

At least 50 varieties of the native Philippine rice are grown throughout Mindanao, using indigenous organic farming techniques. These are often marketed as heirloom rice and command high prices in organic markets.

In line with the celebration of the Earth Day, the environmental advocates also called on the Mindanawons to reject genetically modified crops like Golden Rice.

They are also asking the DA to support organic farming, instead, as provided for by the National Organic Agriculture Act of 2010.
“If we consumers will all stand up and reject pesticide-intensive and GMOs’ dependent agriculture in favor of organic farming, we could put our island, and our country-on the path to a sustainable future and ensure a healthier future for everyone,” Pelino said.

The advocates also urged the DA to uphold the integrity of Republic Act 10068, or The Philippine Organic Agriculture Act, which seeks to develop and protect the organic agriculture nationwide by stopping the entry of genetically modified organisms into Philippine agriculture.

Third World Network associate and GOM member Atty. Lee Aruelo said that similar actions have been initiated across the country. He added that this is to show to government that there is a significant opposition to the GMOs and Golden Rice.

“In the interest of our farmers and food security, genetically modified organics should be banned from being introduced into our country’s farmlands,” Aruelo said. ( Ivy Tejano, SUNSTAR DAVAO)