Trees, Forests and Summer
The writer in Mount Guiting Guiting, Sibuyan Island, Romblon province.
by Lodel Magbanua, Advocacy
In this blistering summer heat, I scramble to keep my body temperature down. If I have a choice, I'd go for a dip in a cool mountain lake river or go to the beach. But the most immediate that I can do is grab a drink of cool water, take a bath and turn on the fan or air-conditioning.
But these three simple actions involved costs. We pay for our water and electricity bills to stay off the heat and go on with our normal lives. It makes me wonder what the cost effective ways of staying cool are during these summer months.
My wandering thoughts took me back to my childhood days in the rural part of Bacolod City. Along with my childhood friends, we simply climbed our favourite mango tree. We spent the hot lazy afternoons under its shade, taking naps on its lower branches and nourishing ourselves from its fruits. There was enough natural cool shade for me and my friends. And that was just coming from one tree.
Imagine the array of environmental services of clean air, sustainable water, soil fertility and even protection from extreme weather conditions such as typhoons and droughts when we have intact forests.
A forest is not just a collection of trees. As stated in the Forest Resources Bill (FRB) pending in Congress, 'forest' refers to an ecosystem or assemblage of ecosystems dominated by trees and other woody vegetation; a community of plants and animals interacting with one another and its physical environment. It shall consist of trees with overlapping crowns of 60-100% forest cover.
Support the passage of the Forest Resources Bill!
As of 2003, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' latest estimate of forest cover is at around 24%. In order to maintain ecological processes, the Philippines need 54% forest cover to sustain these services. With this deficit, around 1 million hectares of Philippine rainforests are threatened by intensive logging and conversion to other uses such as mining.
Healthy forests are said to be stable hydrological systems. They strongly influence the quality and quantity of water from watersheds and lower storm flows and water run-offs for any given input of rainfall. They also provide the greatest soil stability and lowest levels of soil mass movement and surface erosion. Healthy forests also export levels of sediment downstream.
Dr. Jessica C. Salas of the Iloilo Watershed Management Council said, “for a long term climate change adaptation strategy and sustainable freshwater supply, we need to restore our natural forests and increase forest cover”.
By all means, let us do what we can to keep cool this summer but let us always remember that the water we drink, bathe and other domestic use, the fresh air and protection from extreme weather conditions are services we get from a healthy forests.
We need to bring back real forests. You can help through the following:
Plant native tree species.Establish nurseries of native forest trees in your own backyard.Be part of Haribon’s rainforestation efforts.Support forest restoration in one of the 117 Key Biodiversity Areas.Write to your Senators and Congressional representatives to enact the Forest Resources Bill into law.
For more information on the Forest Resources Bill (FRB):