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Lunangan Imaginarium
Lunangan Imaginarium
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Barangay Tacunan, Davao, PH
Climate zone:
Wet/Dry Tropical

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Backyard Reforestation Project

Project: Lunangan Imaginarium

Posted by Erika Ileto Catral over 4 years ago

Please help me grow a backyard forest with Philippine indigenous trees!

I dream of reforesting Lunangan with Philippine indigenous trees and our Zone 5 is devoted exclusively to that dream. Growing up in metropolitan Manila with poor science education, our own native trees are alien to me. I cannot name our indigenous tree species, nor can I tell a Kamagong leaf from a Mayapis leaf. I have not tasted a decoction made from Akapulko leaves nor drank a fresh brew from Lagundi leaves to assuage my cough. Back in 2005 our country had 8% forest cover remaining and most native species are endangered. Forests are cleared for plantations and for grazing pastures to meet the demand for precious beef and goat meat. Our last strongholds to protect us from floods have been bulldozed. I refuse to stand alongside perpetrators of the manslaughter of tens of thousand of lives taken by Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo, and Yolanda. I refuse to live estranged from the source of my breath. I refuse to gestate generations whose ignorance are worse than mine. We need to grow forests not trees!

First I had to rehabilitate the Zone 5 area (a little more than a tenth of an hectare), which was dug out by the previous owner who had intended to use them as tilapia fisheries. However, shortly after I had them backfilled, I was flash flooded! There are no more forests in the area where I live, which is now mostly banana plantations. Hence, a little rainfall for as long as it steadily pours can raise the levels of streams and bring in the floods. I wept for a week over the soil degradation and terror of it all, but somehow had to gather my wits to figure out how to build gabions. I'm not an engineer nor a contractor but the few I knew in Davao city were busy with big "development" projects, they couldn't be bothered with the flooding of a nobody.

Upon learning I was flashflooded, other friends would just respond with silence or "oh nos," but consolation came from only two people: the first was from a forester who texted simply "I'm sorry. It takes a 100 years to build a forest, but we destroy it in seconds." He understood how distraught I was by the devastation, something others could not readily understand because there was no body count. Another source of strength came from a friend who is himself a homesteader and had experienced flooding too. He told me that we just have to keep fighting and carry on. I pray that Lunangan be as the olive branch that the dove carried to Noah: it become a sign for others that floods will no longer cover the earth...if we keep on fighting the good fight to regenerate the land. 

After overseeing the gabion construction, a contractor took on helping me dig out a canal around the property. Earthbags were used to line the canal and the corners were rip-rapped. I planted lemongrass along the earthbag terraces that line the canal and bamboos along the edges of the property to help stabilize the soil and mitigate erosion.

Selecting Species
Now I can hopefully focus on reforesting the area! Anyone with a background in forestry? Please have a look at this working document: Database of native species to help me determine which species are best and/or to help update what I might have missed. The soil in the area is mostly Tacunan clay. I plan to begin with nitrogen-fixing species to build the soil along with species that help stabilize the soil from erosion. Then plant dipterocarps. Through accelerated succession, after the the other forest 'layers' are planted in place of sacrificial trees, perhaps in seven years there would be a discernible food forest growing in the Lunangan backyard!

Sourcing Species
Another concern aside from determining which species are best and where and how to source native species! The nurseries in Davao city are focused on cash crops. So far, the closest nurseries that came up online are RAFI in Cebu (This is RAFI's seedling list) and Bohol Biodiversity Complex. If you know where I could source species or would like to donate species, kindly do get in touch via [email protected], salamat!

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