How to give back with one of our greatest gifts: Trees.
The Christmas tree has long been associated with the gift-giving holiday in the Philippines, and even earlier, in the west. Going back even further, people in Europe decorated trees in their homes during the winter months while even further back in time, ancient Egyptians filled their homes with green palm during the winter solstice. But trees are more than just a symbol for Christmas once a year. It is a symbol for something even more grand and giving.
One of the greatest gifts of trees: Fresh water!
Without water, there is no life. Up to 60% of an average adult man is water. And just because 71% of the Earth's surface is water, keep in mind that only 0.3% of this is fresh water and consumable for human use. So how does it get from our oceans to us humans in our towns and cities?
Philippine forests are integral parts of something called "watersheds", or areas of land where water collects and runs into the same place. Forests there protect the ground and soil beneath them, acting like a "shield" preventing erosion and excessive runoff that contributes to floods and mudslides. They also filter rainwater pollutants reducing their amounts in streams, lakes, bays and water sources, acting like "sponges" holding and filtering water for human habitats.
If you use a faucet, take a bath, enjoy soda, or consume meat or vegetables that consumed water when they were alive, then that means you have benefitted from the ecological services of trees as well.
Without trees, excessive rainwater runoff would over saturate soil, making it harder to farm. That same runoff would end up in our streets and towns causing floods. Indeed, we've already seen the consequences of logging forests and replacing them with paved urban areas: flooded Metro Manila streets run along rivers and are paved on top of old wetland areas and swamps.
In many ways, trees act as intermediary between water held in our oceans and water we consume and enjoy. Water may symbolize life, but trees still symbolize the giving and receiving of that life.
The time to give back to our forests is now.
The benefits that trees give humanity are as complex as they are numerous. The Haribon Foundation is part ofRainforest Organizations and Advocates (ROAD) to 2020: the culmination of movements from both science and society. It combines the science of planting native trees to effectively carry out ecological services and the movement of concerned citizens to carry out one of the largest tasks made in Philippine environmental conservation to date: to plant 1 million hectares of Philippine rainforests by 2020.
Give a Gift Tree!
With P300 you: adopt a tree under the ROAD to 2020 campaign, give a gift card to a friend or family member, and give all of us another tree to help us continue living and giving.
When you adopt a tree, you can choose whether your gift recipient gets a special "Animalaya" card you can give them in person, or a paperless e-card you can send via a more environmentally-friendly route such as an email.
We may come from different places and speak different languages, but we all drink from the same watersheds, and the same trees give us all what we need to survive. Give back to what we have enjoyed for so long as if your life depended on it. Because it does!
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"History of Christmas Trees" - The History Channel - http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees (accessed 1120am, Nov. 4, 2014)"Amount and Composition of Global Water" - Chemistry Views -http://www.chemistryviews.org/details/ezine/1639819/Amount_and_Composition_of_Global_Water.html"The water in you." - USGS - water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html"What is a Watershed?" - United States Environmental Protection Agency -http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/whatis.cfm (accessed 1202pm, Nov. 4, 2014)"Wherever you live... you live in a watershed." - Maryland Department of Natural Resources -http://www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/education/shed.htmlROAD to 2020 campaign: http://haribon.org.ph/index.php/road-to-2020