Philippines: Planting Trees Around the Watershed

By Sr. Benilda Avelino SSpS

We planted Acacia Auri seedlings in the watershed at Kamalig, Poog, Toledo City, Philippines.  This initiative aims to revive the source of water that supplies more than 100 households around the area. The older residents describe the flow of water from the tank as the size of a human head.  As development in the area, particularly mining and quarrying, the water became thin and not even a trickle during summer months. Another contributory cause of water scarcity is the possible movement of the earth’s layer due to earthquakes plus the increasing temperature/unprecedented climate change due to irresponsible ways of treating nature/environment. In the past five years, water has been so scarce that people quarrel about water supply. A number started to dig their ground well, yet many of these wells could not supply the needed water for the household.

I believe people either lack knowledge /not well informed of the consequences of going far beyond their rights without the corresponding responsibilities, thinking only of today and their own needs/interests. Or they are knowledgeable of the beauty and usefulness of maintaining biodiversity and harmony in creation but careless and do nothing. This fact indeed is a tragedy that we have been in CLIMATE EMERGENCY for a long time!

Frequent thunderstorms like the heavy rain for some days early part of September 2021, the waterways overflowed reaching and damaging plantation and buildings/houses along the riverbanks and low-lying areas.

One concrete action we took recently is planting fast-growing vegetables like saluyot and spinach. Just cast the seed on the fertile ground before the rainy season. In less than two months, we can have greens for healthy food. We are allowing landless neighbors to till and plant vegetables and root crops in some vacant areas in our land.

In the next three years (2021 – 2024), we plan to practice and share different organic inputs to preserve the land and improve crop yields. Collect good seeds of vegetables, fruit trees, and forest trees and employ the help of women to sow seeds for the seedling of indigenous trees and different varieties of bamboo to be either sold or/distributed for planting. Encourage churches/ schools/ employers to require their members/students/ employees to grow trees in their land or public/other’s soil. Continue to collaborate and give IEC on Climate/ Eco-spirituality to groups, especially the youth and like-minded institutions/groups, and challenge /move them to commit doable actions like growing trees, gardening, etc., toward livable earth.