Isabela farmers receive 20,000 fruit-bearing trees
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the National Geographic Channel (NGC) distributed 20,000 fruit-bearing trees to farmers in Isabela province to curb the effects of climate change.
WWF and NGC pointed out that half of the world’s forests have been cut down for agriculture.
“Agroforestry allows crops and trees to coexist, maximizing benefits. This increases land productivity, improves water recharge and minimizes erosion,” WWF’s Edgardo Tongson said. Agroforestry is a unique approach to reforestation, allowing the balanced intercropping of trees, shrubs and crops to create more productive, profitable and sustainable plots.
Since 2009, WWF and its supporters have helped farmers in Isabela to plant 25,000 fruit-bearing trees, revitalizing 210 hectares of denuded pastureland. Fruit trees were chosen to provide farmers incentives to nurture saplings to maturity.
As part of its commitment to reforestation, NGC has distributed an additional 20,000 citrus, cacao, rambutan, and guyabano saplings to Isabela farmers. “We have taken National Geographic Channel’s goal of inspiring people to care about the planet to heart in our efforts to promote agroforestry with WWF,” Fox International Channels vice president and Territory head Jude Turcuato said.
“At our Earth Day Run 2013, we pledged to plant three trees for every registered runner at the Abuan watershed in Isabela. Runners came in droves to join the event and help not only the environment but also the farmers of Isabela through these fruit-bearing trees,” he added.
Combined with a string of earlier corporate initiatives pulled together by WWF, this raises the number of planted agroforestry trees to over 40,000. The move aims to reforest Isabela’s Abuan watershed, a once-verdant forest which has since been converted to endless sprawls of corn and rice.
Shielding the eastern face of Luzon for 340 kilometers and spanning 359,486 hectares, the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park is both the Philippines’ longest mountain range and its largest protected area. Over 150 endemic animal species, from the iconic Philippine Eagle and Isabela Oriole, to the critically-endangered Philippine Crocodile, -slither, scuttle or soar above its vegetated ridges.
In turn, its forests provide water for an estimated 400,000 hectares of rice and cornfields. It is the country’s largest grain larder. Unfortunately, its forests have been beset by centuries of illegal logging, swidden farming and land clearing, threatening the livelihood of Isabela’s farmers.
In 2009, 100 truckloads of illegally-cut timber trusses were recovered from lumberyards and log ponds in San Mariano. The Abuan watershed is a vital part of the Sierra Madre.
“Deforestation, both for agriculture and logging, poses many problems,” Tongson pointed out. “Climate change has been causing stronger and more intense storms. Heavy rains rushing over exposed land without trees to shield and bind the soil cause erosion, bleeding the soil clean of nutrients. Nutrient-rich sediments are then washed out to rivers, reducing the natural capacity of waterways to deal with floods,” he added. He a said, “food crops are certainly important.”
Tongson explained that “food crops allow us to feed Earth’s growing population.”