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Loren: Plant more trees to combat climate change

January 6, 2010

PLANT MORE TREES, AND WE CAN SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT AND DEAL WITH CLIMATE CHANGE WHILE THERE IS STILL TIME. THIS WAS THE KEY MESSAGE CONVEYED BY SEN. LOREN LEGARDA, FOUNDER OF LUNTIANG PILIPINAS, AN ENVIRONMENTAL NGO, IN A RADIO INTERVIEW TODAY.
Loren observed that at the rate Filipinos are cutting down trees in the 700,000 remaining hectares of virgin forests, then the country will not have any more virgin forests in ten years.
Loren warned of dire consequences if the country loses its virgin forests.
The country stands to lose its biodiversity which provides both humans and animals with food and shelter. Plants that are the source of food as well as medicine will also be gone. Denudation of our forests will reduce the carbon sink, since trees absorb carbon emissions that deplete the ozone layer. And if the watershed areas are denuded, our water supply will also be affected, Loren said.
Apart from threatening our food and water supply, deforestation will also expose the people to destructive storms, floods, mudflows and landslides.
Loren, who is running as the vice presidential candidate of the Nationalist People’s Coalition in tandem with Sen. Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party, revealed that she was motivated to seek higher political office by her experience in the tree planting campaign.
The dedication and enthusiasm of the members and supporters of Luntiang Pilipinas, Loren said, have inspired so many other people to do their share in protecting the environment.
Thus far, Luntiang Pilipinas has planted some 2 million trees in 33 provinces, 28 cities and 84 municipalities. Loren said.
The senator expressed confidence that in time, the group would be able to meet their target of one billion trees. When this is reached, then they would target another billion.
Tree planting was seen as good only for photo opportunities before, Loren noted, but now more and more people are realizing that it has a big impact on the environment.
Loren disclosed that in Albay, with guidance from Dr. Rodel Lasco of the World Agro-Forestry Center, some 500 farmers will be planting forest trees in their farms so that these will be protected from the effects of climate change.
Luntiang Pilipinas will also embark on three ‘carbon sequestration projects’ in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao covering 5,000 hectares to control carbon emissions.
Also on tap are the setting up of a national tree nursery in Los Baños together with the Bureau of Plant Industry, as well as municipal nurseries in Antique and Iloilo.
Apart from these, Luntiang Pilipinas would also lead efforts to plant trees along major roadways, such as the North and South Expressways.
In the urban areas, it will coordinate with local governments and the Metro Manila Development Authority to plant trees along road islands and to set up urban tree parks and campus forest parks.
She urged Filipinos to support reforestation projects, whether these are government-initiated or private efforts.
Loren emphasized that “more than the actual number of trees we plant, what is more important is to instill in the minds of present and future generations that we have to save the environment while there is still time.”