“Lahat ng bagay ay pwede nating mapanatiling matagal ang paggamit basta ito ay sa maayos na pamamaraan.” (We can keep all things sustainable as long as we use them in a disciplined way.)
Member, Nam-Namma Farmers Association of Barangay Villarica
NOTE: Some answers to the interviews have been edited slightly for brevity.
The Rainforestation training held at Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija is a sustainable initiative that seeks to empower indigenous people and the local community to revitalize the local ecosystem. The destruction of our forests has led to a decrease in biodiversity and has magnified the impacts of climate change in our country. However, innovative solutions like Rainforestation Technology are rising to the challenge, and Haribon Foundation remains at the forefront of this green revolution.
HARIBON facilitated a 2-day Rainforestation Training and a Citizen's Action for Monitoring Ecosystems (CAME) Orientation at the Conference Hall of Barangay Villarica, Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija on July 26-27, 2023 for its Engaging Multi-Stakeholder Participation Towards Ecosystem Restoration for Community Resiliency (EMPOWER) Project. Participants of the training were composed of members of the cooperative: Maluyon Indigenous Christian Farmers Association (MICFA) from Sitio Tuli, Nam-Namma Farmers Association (NNFA) of Barangay Villarica, Samahang Kababaihan of Pantabangan, Samahan ng mga Masisipag na Magsasaka at Mangingisda ng Barangay Villarica (SMMMBV), and Barangay officials of Barangay Villarica.
On the first day of the training, the EMPOWER team provided the participants with lessons on the essential concepts and principles of forest restoration, allowing for a thorough understanding of the following topics:
- Ecology and the Ecosystem
- Philippine Biodiversity
- Status of the Philippine Tropical Rainforests
- Rainforestation Technology
- Forest Fires and Prevention, and
- Nursery Establishment
A Simultaneous Orientation on CAME
Alongside the principles of forest restoration, members of the partner People’s Organizations (POs) were also introduced to the CAME program, which enables local communities to actively participate in monitoring and protecting their ecosystems. The CAME orientation successfully raised the awareness of the PO partners in environmental issues and the role they can play in protecting and preserving the various flora and fauna in forests. As one MICFA member claimed, “Ang tao ang tagapangalaga ng ating mundo kasi dito nakasalalay ang ating kabuhayan. Tayo ang may responsibilidad sa ating mga kagubatan at katubigan” (We are the stewards of our planet because our lives and livelihood depend on it. We are responsible for our forest and marine ecosystems.
The EMPOWER team continued with the CAME system orientation during the second day’s morning session. They covered the different methods and tools used in monitoring and reporting about the conditions of the forest ecosystem. This was followed by a hands-on portion of the training, where HARIBON and the participants set off together towards the site they have chosen to establish a community nursery. This is a specific area where they can grow and nurture the native species of wildlings that they will plant to restore forests.
The rainy weather posed a challenge on that day however, and other difficulties that came with the training was as unpredictable as the weather itself. Despite the discomfort and distraction of a wet and muddy field, the participants met the challenges with positivity. Some of the men took initiative in building a temporary tarpaulin shelter over the working area.
With the guidance of Foresters Ken Penaflor and Thaddeus Martinez, the participants prepared the soil mixture and potted them in polybags, while the other members of the group constructed the growth chamber. In constructing the growth chamber, they made a rectangular frame out of bamboo and attached bamboo strips securely from one side to the other. When it was done, they placed the potted wildlings/seedlings inside the frame and covered it with gauge 14 plastic sheets. They also left some plastic overhanging at the base of the frame to create a sealed environment. Some of the participants led by HARIBON’s Forest Technician from the Natural Resources Management Division, Francisco ‘Kiko’ Dublan, also went off to the nearby forest area to collect wildlings. The process involves collecting pencil-height wildlings from healthy mother trees, then pruning their leaves and roots, before planting them in polyethylene bags with mixed soil. This experience manifested the participants’ sense of collaboration, adaptability and positive attitude in the face of weather adversity.
Community-Based Rainforestation Technology
Among the essential components of the Rainforestation Training are the emphasis on using native trees, at the same time equipping the PO partners with the knowledge and skills so that they are able to implement this technology effectively. This community-based approach that HARIBON utilizes towards forest restoration is the key to its sustainability.
Martinez explained that Rainforestation Technology has been in existence for a significant period of time and has played a major role in HARIBON’s forest restoration efforts in different areas in the Philippines. Through Memorandum Circular 2004-06, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has incorporated Rainforestation Farming Technology in all reforestation projects in 2004. Unfortunately, this was disseminated to only a few provinces at the time and it was not extended to the national level in the Philippines. In 2006, HARIBON faced other challenges in the proper implementation of the technology during a project with the Rain Forest Restoration Initiative (RFRI) Network and a time when the government had been using exotic trees in their projects. “We cannot preserve biodiversity, we cannot bring back the lost flora and fauna found in our forests, if the tree species that we plant are not right,” says Forester Thaddeus Martinez, Project Manager of EMPOWER.
As the Philippines' pioneer environmental organization, HARIBON has been instrumental in introducing the use of Rainforestation Technology and native trees, which continues to this day as the organization works closely with local communities and indigenous people, who are often the guardians and stewards of the forestlands around them.
Rainforestation is not just a tool or technology used for reforestation, but it is also a comprehensive and sustainable approach to restoring our forests - an approach that is aligned with the urgent call for global action towards environmental conservation as it also builds communities of environmentally-conscious citizens who can spearhead the cause. HARIBON believes that the knowledge and connection that local communities and indigenous people have with their natural environment make them ideal leaders for sustaining and restoring forests.
Haribon Foundation's Learning Laboratory for Native Trees and Biodiversity in Laguna
HARIBON’s Learning Laboratory for Native Trees and Biodiversity in Laguna serves as a tangible representation of the organization's dedication to Rainforestation. This unique 'living laboratory' acts as both a training facility and a platform for showcasing the potential of native trees in restoring forests and promoting biodiversity.
The foundation's work in Rainforestation has had significant and far-reaching impacts for its partner sites and communities. Not only does it contribute to the restoration of forest cover and biodiversity of tree species in Protected Areas (PAs) and Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), it also creates livelihood opportunities for local communities. By striking a balance between environmental conservation and economic development, this approach becomes a powerful model for sustainable change.
Testimonials from the participants of EMPOWER’s Rainforestation training offered first hand insights into its transformative experience and lasting impact. They serve as a testament to its effectiveness and importance in empowering individuals and communities to become stewards of the environment.
“Nadagdagan ang aming kaalaman sa mga bagay na di namin nalalaman lalo na dun po sa growth chamber. Nagtatanim din po kami since 2010. Ininvite kami ng barangay. Dun po sa amin maluwag pa ang mga taniman, maluwag pa ang mga grasslands. Malaking tulong din para sa amin kung makakasama kami sa HARIBON.” (Our knowledge of things that we did not know increased, especially about the growth chamber. We have been planting since 2010. The local barangay invited us. In our locality’s planting site, we still have open fields, we still have open grasslands. It will also be a big help for us if we can join HARIBON)
– Sitio Tuli, MICFA Member
“Masaya po para sa akin kasi tayo po ay nagsama-sama uli. Nakapag-bonding po tayo sa ating training. Sana sa susunod pa ay magkakaroon pa tayo ng ganito.” (I am happy because we got to spend time together again. We were able to bond during our training. I hope next time we will have more of these get-togethers.)
– Member, Samahang Kababaihan of Pantabangan
“Masaya po ang experience at marami po ang natutunan sa training na ito, lalo na sa pagtatanim. Masaya kahit ganito ang panahon (umuulan).” (The experience was fun and I learned a lot in this training, especially in planting. It’s still fun even if the weather is like this (it's raining))
– Youth member,Nam-Namma Farmer’s Association, Brgy. Villarica
“Ako po ay nagpapasalamat sa dalawang araw na training. Nadagdagan po ang aming kaalaman sa pagtatanim. Sana lang hindi ito ang una [na training]. Sana magsama sama pa tayo sa project na ito.” (I am grateful for the two-day training. Our knowledge of planting has increased. Hopefully this is not the only training. I hope we can work together more on this project.)
– Kagawad, Brgy. Villarica, Pantabangan
“Maibabahagi ang natutunan ko doon sa pagpapatubo. Kailangan pala yun tutukan din. Mula sa simula hanggang mapalaki para umalsa ang tubo at maganda.” (I can share what I learned about growing (plants). It also needs full attention, from start until it’s fully grown, so that it can grow well.)
- Member, Samahang Kababaihan of Pantabangan
Nurturing Sustainable Forest Restoration
For many years, Rainforestation Technology has been paving an effective path in forest restoration, emphasizing the important roles that native trees and local communities play. HARIBON’s work has demonstrated that by providing local communities and indigenous people with appropriate training and resources, there is great potential to reduce deforestation and apply more sustainable restoration practices.
Looking forward, the collaboration between Rainforestation Technology training and community-led initiatives will remain a vital tool in the organization’s ongoing efforts to restore our forests with the ardent support of the National Grid Corporation Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
Note: The Nam-Namma Farmers Association (NNFA) was the final PO partner for PCWFR in Year 1 of the project.