The Mount Apo Foundation, Inc. (MAFI) on April 24, 2009 launched the “Ma-ag Tinikaran Project” in a short program held at the Mindanao Geothermal Production Field office. Around 200 volunteers from various partner-institutions joined the initial tree-planting activity last April 24-27, 2009 where a total of 6,250 tinikaran (Leptospermum flavescens) seedlings were planted.
The project will be implemented by MAFI with the support of partner institutions, organizations, groups and individuals bound together by the spirit of volunteerism and guided by the core value of social responsibility for the environment.
The project, located at the Ma-ag portion near the peak of Mt. Apo, aims to: 1) establish an environmental undertaking to save the last frontiers of Mt. Apo; 2) provide a venue for multi-sectoral participation; 3) promote the spirit of volunteerism; 4) develop social responsibility for the environment; and 5) foster unity and cooperation among project partners and Mt. Apo stakeholders.
The project site is part of the portion of Mt. Apo Natural Park being reforested by the Energy Development Corporation (EDC). At 2,446 meters above sea level, it can be considered as the highest reforestation project in the country. As project partner, EDC, who operates the Mindanao Geothermal Production Field, shall be responsible for preparing the area for planting, as well as provide the tinikaran seedlings.
The project activities include: 1] planting 12,500 Tinikaran (Leptospermum flavescens) seedlings in 2 major planting activities in 2009; and 2] two maintenance activities during the first year of planting and twice per year every succeeding years until the fifth year from planting.
As agreed, volunteers will provide their own personal needs during every activity. MAFI and other project partners will supplement the volunteers’ needs according to actual project support and assistance generated. At least 150 volunteers will be mobilized for the initial planting of 6,250 seedlings at the project site on April 24-25, 2009. Every volunteer is expected to plant 40 seedlings in this two-day activity, he said. The next wave of tree planting will be in September or October.
Atty. Ermelo N. Libre, MAFI Executive Director, said that he conceptualized the project after seeing satellite photos of Mt. Apo in 1998 and 2004 that showed a vanishing forest cover within and around Mt. Apo National Park. He believed that this unabated deforestation threatens the delicate biodiversity, ecosystem and natural legacy of Mt. Apo and can adversely affect the condition and quality of our community in the future.
And recognizing that Mt. Apo should be everybody’s concern as everybody benefits from its rich resource base, Atty. Libre decided to rally the support of institutions, groups and individuals he thought will be willing to support the project. “Thus far, the pledges of support from Local Government Units, environmental groups, civil society organizations, private businesses and other institutions, and individuals we are receiving are very encouraging and inspiring,” Atty. Libre said. He added that if the enthusiasm and interest of project partners is sustained, he may again request EDC for additional areas to reforest. He is also convinced of the project’s replicability not only in other parts of Mt. Apo but in all other denuded areas in the province.