Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reconnecting the Tree Corridors

I attended the joint tree planting event of the UP Mountaineers and the Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society this morning. There I met Prof. Gerry de Villa once more, who I learned is also U.P. Mountaineer aside from being an avid birdwatcher. He was explaining to us PNPCSI members and the other participants why it is important to plant trees within the U.P. campus.

Prof. Gerry said that when you look at a map of Luzon, you' ll find tree cover lining the extent of the Sierra Madre range which creeps down towards Ipo watershed and then to La Mesa dam. La Mesa of course leads to Balara and the U.P. campus. These aforementioned areas are all linked in a series by a 'tree corridor'. So when U.P. or any of these areas become devoid of trees, the chain is going to be broken. When this happens, the link for birds to fly from one tree to the other is also severed. As a result, the number of birds that can be spotted in those places may decline.

But what is the importance of these birds? Again Prof Gerry answered us with an illustration. In a workshop they conducted for local children in Ipo dam, he asked them where particular trees in the vicinity came from. Some children answered thier parents planted some of them but they did not know who planted the majority. Gerry's reply was nature, which a big part of are birds. It is a cycle after all. The trees should be there for the birds and the trees are there because of birds.

After the brief introductions, and Prof Gerry's short talk, the volunteers commenced digging and planting the donated seedlings. The ground was quite hard and excavating holes proved more difficult, but with the number of participants present, the job was finished in an hour or so. Planted into the ground were seedlings of kamagong (Diospyros digna), supa (Sindora supa), kalumpit (Terminalia microcarpa), Philippine teak ( Tectona philippinensis), alibangbang (Bauhinia malabarica), kalumpang (Sterculia foetida) and some dipterocarps. With a little care and patience, these will in no time reinforce the tree corridors in this part of Manila.

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