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Hug'em, Love'em , Plant'em: Tree Planting Is What The True Environmentalist Should Be Doing

Ready with your seedling?

Recycle! Reuse! Choose organic! Support eco-consciousness! Say no to plastic!


How many buzzwords and campaigns about being kind to the environment have we heard throughout the years? Too many to count, probably. 


The thing is, with the dizzying array of actions we can choose to do to show planet Earth some love (or rather should be doing) not all environment-focused activities and efforts are made equal. These days, we feel good when we purchase clothes from a brand that claims it's changed the way it processes factory waste, we love it when we eat at restaurants that serve beverages with paper/edible/metal straws instead of the evil single-use plastic kind, and we feel accomplished if we've made it a habit to properly segregate trash at home. These initiatives have convinced us that doing them consistently make big changes, and to some degree, they do—but there's something much more impactful that you might not have tried yet, or might not be as spoken of as frequently.


We're talking about planting trees.


More than limiting our use of non-biodegradable items and adjusting other aspects of our lifestyles for us to live more environmentally friendly lives, planting trees is still the best way to protect and save the planet, hands down. For all the benefits tree planting gives us—saving us from deadly floods floods, making our cities cooler and more beautiful, giving us food, protecting animal species, absorbing carbon emissions, and literally producing the oxygen we breathe—it leaves no waste in return and does not harm the Earth. (As opposed to the other things we've been doing that only minimize human-made waste, but doesn't eliminate it completely). 


So why aren't we doing more of it? 

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Image from Pexels

We honestly wish we had the answer to that.


More specifically, why aren't Filipinos in particular planting more trees? We have so many kinds that so many people around the world prize so greatly for different reasons.


We have fruit trees (think of all our foreign friends and tourists who are perpetually delighted by our native mango, avocado, caimito, chico, rambutan—you get the point). We have flowering trees (your favorite luxury perfume's ingredients could include pulmeria a.k.a. kalachuchi or ylang-ylang). We have incredibly strong trees valued for their mature trunks (how many ancestral homes do you know of that boast of having original narra, molave, yakal, or kamagong wood?). And we have a ton of other species that provide invaluable homes to birds, bugs, small mammals, and other plants. The Philippines is home to more than 3,600 unique tree species, more than half of which are species that are not found anywhere else on the planet. 


Wouldn't you want to be part of the effort that preserves this number, or even grows it? 


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Even with this information, it's truly mind-boggling to see that tree planting hasn't been ingrained in more of us; it's still seen as something you go out of your way for, perhaps only a special project students going on a field trip must accomplish, or a once in a blue moon company initiative to boost its corporate social responsibility score.


It doesn't come as naturally to us to think about or do, and the right authorities certainly have not made it a priority to encourage more Filipinos to see tree planting as a valuable national effort that will benefit us all, generation after generation. 


We suppose getting people to embrace the value of tree planting can be likened to planting a tree itself; despite the current reality that very few informal groups and non-profit organizations engage in the activity, but we must remember that even the tallest and strongest trees that stand began as seeds, some even smaller than the tip of your finger. So even with the limited number of Filipinos who are trying their best to make tree planting second nature to us, perhaps their efforts, too, can result in something big and awesome down the line. 


You have to start somewhere, and that somewhere could very well be the palm of your hand that can cradle a seed or seedling when it's time to plant it in the earth. 


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If tree planting is something you'd like to participate it in for the first time or you'd like to do more for the effort, here are some things you can explore: 


The Haribon Foundation accepts volunteers who want to physically travel to a location and plant a tree/trees. But given that this is quite challenging to do now, the alternative is to donate P362 for the cost of a seedling. Someone from the Haribon team will plant it for you, in your name.

Learn more about this here


The Masungi Geopark Reserve has risen to superstar status among eco-tourism fans in the last couple of years for good reason. You don't only enjoy guided treks/hikes and amazing photo opts, but you can also be part of the park's tree planting efforts. The park was constructed not only as a tourist site after all, but also as an HQ whose mission is to restore nearby urban/neglected areas to their all-natural, green glory. 

Learn more about this here


MNL Grow Kits are great if you have space in your home to grow a tree/trees (think of it is as an heirloom forest you'll pass down to your grandkids and then their grandkids, eventually). This local company that introduced plant growing kits are beloved by people who wish to grow produce and flowers at home but don't have time to buy all the materials needed from different suppliers and research on how to do things properly. The kits come with everything you need (everything is compost-friendly), plus their instructions are incredibly easy to follow. The started out with edible plant kits, but they've finally included tree kits too!

Learn more about this here 


The Los Baños Plant Nursery is highly recommended if you're looking to get serious with tree planting. If you have, say, a plot of land in a provincial area or a rest house in the outskirts of Metro Manila that you want to be a lot greener than your urban abode, you should definitely pay this place a visit. They don't just sell you seedlings, but they advice you on how to best take advantage of land; they can tell you which species are best for a location and/or climate, what kinds of trees to grow together (and what to avoid), and how to ensure your seedlings grow into trees and not go to waste. (Extra tip: The tree experts here have helped many people hoping to turn tree planting into profitable businesses, too! Who knows? You could soon be the proud owner of a fruit tree orchard). 

Learn more about this here


There are also international organizations that used to plan regular tree planting activities throughout the year (like WWF and Greenpeace), but these have been put to a temporary stop because of COVID restrictions. To keep abreast of other ways you can help these organizations during this time, follow them on social media and regularly check their websites. 


Regardless of the time and energy you're willing to invest in this, there are many many ways to participate in tree planting efforts and you'll definitely find the right one for you if you look!


Opening images from Unsplash and Pexels


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