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Time to plant trees

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AMIDST THE rising heat index that continues to take its toll on all of us, many questions linger: Will this now be the trend for the rest of our time here on earth? Do we just accept nature’s wrath for the many years we have abused and neglected Mother Earth? Is there even an iota of chance for things to get back to the way they used to be? Has the time finally come for all of us to pull our act together and save the only planet we call home? 

It is comforting to note that health and medical experts have been reminding us how to protect ourselves from the serious effects of the heat index, from constantly hydrating ourselves, staying indoors during particular hours of the day, and wearing light-colored clothes among others. The local government units and the Department of Education on the other hand, have been in constant coordination in monitoring the heat index and in promoting blended learning in lieu of in-person learning to protect learners.

While all these provide temporary relief, we fail to recognize that the rising heat index is a manifestation of global warming, an environmental concern that for quite some time, was downplayed by world leaders and even dismissed outright as a hoax perpetrated by environmentalist whom they regard as leftists, radicals and doomsayers. Not until the world began experiencing dangerous weather events that became more frequent and severe year after year. Today we continue to witness frequent and intense drought, storms, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans. Climate change is real!  

A few weeks ago, I read a post on FB thanking the people who planted and fought to save the narra, camachile, talasai and acacias and other breed of native Philippine trees along the Manila North Road and provincial highway in barangays Dela Paz, to Baliti and Lazatin Boulevard in the City of San Fernando. That same week I was in Japan on a study tour and marvelled how the government has placed a premium on reforestation and wildlife conservation. We visited two of the top universities right at the heart of Tokyo and noticed how modern the structures and facilities were, and yet every available patch of land was planted with huge trees. Trees were not cut to give way to new structures, big or small. Rather the design of the structures was adjusted to ensure that trees were not sacrificed in the name of modernization or development. 

Just yesterday I saw another post from a good friend inviting multi-sectorial groups to plant a tree this June, at the onset of the rainy season. This may initially appear as a small, minor or even insignificant act. However, it is simple acts like tree planting that creates ripples of change in our last-ditch efforts to save our planet.  

It also takes a lot of political will from the national to local government units to implement existing pro-environment laws. Whatever happened to tree planting as a mandatory requirement for graduation? What about the Ancestral Domains Sustainable Development and Protection Plan? Ancestral lands belonging to indigenous people are slowly being taken away by mining companies, all in the name of development. Can you imagine if we can replicate Manilas’ Arroceros Forest Park all over the country and provide a “lung” in every city or town? Wouldn’t it be a refreshing sight to have trees along national and barangay roads that provide shelter for all motorists?  There will no longer be a need to stay in our air-conditioned rooms; we can stay under the canopy of giant trees in the nearby park, watch our children play with other kids and then plan our next tree-planting projects with the rest of our neighbors. 

I may be envisioning an ideal picture in my mind. I may be dreaming something bigger than all our collective dreams. But as one TV commercial aptly puts it, great things start from small beginnings. The time is now, and not tomorrow when all is lost and we only have ourselves to blame. 

 

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