Organization calls on volunteers to help with the project.
WORDS BY KENDRICK GO
If there is any truth to the old saying that you reap what you sow, then it appears that a number of local youths are looking to reap something significant in the future.
Come June 22, after all, the national youth group, Sigaw ng Kabataan Coalition (SKC,) will be planting around 50,000 trees all over the country. Dubbed “Reforestation in Progress,” this campaign seeks to provide a source of livelihood for various communities while improving the quality of life in such areas. To be done in celebration of the Philippine Environment Month, this initiative also seeks to be a model for tree planting initiatives in the future.
“Many tree planting initiatives have failed to achieve their goals due to the planting of wrong tree species,” said Francis Villamil, the project’s head for SKC. “They plant invasive tree species like mahogany which only worsens the local situation. We do not intend to do that. We want to plant trees that will help the community without endangering the local ecosystem.”
To be conducted with the aid of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR,) SKC’s provincial chapters and various subgroups of Rotary International, the tree planting blitz will cover a total of 15 provincial areas and Metro Manila. The provincial areas include  Pilar, Abra  Tarlac Agricultural University  Victoria, Tarlac  Villasis  San Nicolas in Pangasinan  Panglao, Bohol  Las Navas, Northern Samar  Aklan  Iloilo  Sagay City  Don Salvador Benedicto Municipality in Negros Occidental  Surigao City  Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay  Pasonanca, Zamboanga City and  Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. For the Metro Manila leg, the tree planting will occur in Baseco, Port Area which recently gained ground suitable for planting after the clean-up initiatives that happened earlier this year.
“The area has served as dumpsites before and many household wastes still end up there up to this date,” Villamil said. “It needs to be saved. The DENR, other NGOs, and other government agencies have already initiated efforts in saving and restoring the Baseco area and the whole manila bay. We wanted to complement these existing efforts.”
To do this, SKC will attempt to plant mangroves and fruit-bearing trees (provided by the DENR) near the Baseco coastline. The mangroves, according to Villamil, will be planted in order to help the community deal with the usual problems faced by settlements located in coastal areas (like storm surges.) The fruit-bearing trees meanwhile will be planted to improve the place’s air quality and provide a possible source of livelihood and food for its residents.
To ensure the success of this operation, Villamil said that SKC decided to partner up with various Rotary groups that the organization has ties to. These include the Rotary Satellite Club of Fort Bonifacio Global City TITANS, the Rotaract Club of Makati HV Dela Costa, and Paseo de Roxas, the Rotaract District Council and select Rotary Clubs of Rotary International District 3830. That being said, however, Villamil stressed that the group is still in need of aid from private individuals. This is why SKC is reaching out to volunteers.
“It would be great if companies, other NGOs, and private individuals could support our cause through either providing food and drinks, gloves and hand shovels, or volunteering for our activity,” he said. “We feel that this is a good opportunity for people to aid our environment and socialize.”
Those interested to help, he said, may reach out to the group via email (firstname.lastname@example.org.) They may also check out the event’s page on Facebook and register to join in the Baseco tree planting activity.
“With the help of others,” he said, “we believe that we can complete this ambitious task.”
As of 2015, the overall forest cover of the Philippines is estimated to be at 7,014,154 hectares. These numbers considered, it was revealed by the Philippine Forestry Statistics provided by the Forest Management Bureau that the country is losing about 47,000 hectares of forest cover annually. Meanwhile, the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the Philippines in 2012 were 157.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This apparently contributes to around 0.33 percent in total of global GHG emissions. As a nonpartisan, national consortium of youth organizations with around 51,000 members, SKC aims to affect these numbers for the future that they will most likely be facing.
“We understand that this project, as ambitious as it may seem, is not enough to solve a lot of our environmental problems,” Villamil said. “But it is the right step forward for a country that we, the youth, will inherit.”