This past September 24-25, members of ESSA in Negros Oriental facilitated a workshop in partnership with FENOR (Friends of The Environment in Negros Oriental) and Liptong Woodland. The two day workshop, entitled Agriculture and Beyond: The Importance of Native trees, highlighted the massive damage of the farming industry on the biodiversity and forest cover of the Philippines, and the effect this has on the climate. In order to empower the farmers to do something about it, the workshop gave instruction on the identification, collection, rehabilitation and planting of native tree species. Participants learned how to create a recovery chamber, to bag native species, and how these species could help in their agricutlure and livelihood.
The workshop’s main resource speaker was Rene “Tatay Eti” Vendiola, a former logger turned mountain guide turned native tree champion. The founder and mind behind Liptong woodland, a 3 hectare forest of endangered native trees, Tatay Eti has single handedly planted thousands of trees and propagated and facilitated the planting of nearly a million more.
The workshop began with an opening ceremony by ESSA council member and Negros Cluster president Dindin Daliva. The solemn activity brought the spiritual dimension into the seminar, which was a first time experience for many of the farmers in attendance.
After a lecture by Tatay Eti, explaining the reduction of forest cover in the philippines to nearly 5% of the original amount, the practical portion began conducted by Felix Bodula, also part of the Liptong Woodland Project.
On the second day, the participants harvested wild tree seedlings from the area and bagged them. They also finished building the recovery chamber. The activity ended with a ceremonial tree planting in the adjacent lot.
Before ending the participants were put into groups to make pledges for the future. Areas in excess of 10 hectares were promised for native forest restoration and materials for propagation of ten thousand seedlings were offered as well.
In the weeks since, the groups have followed through on their pledges, selecting a nursery site for four thousand seedlings, and about 500 more native trees have been planted, including the critically endangered Lauan and Yakal.