SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House committee on reforestation chaired by Rep. Noel Villanueva (3rd District, Tarlac) has approved several bills seeking to establish arboretums in the province of Lanao del Norte.
The bills define arboretum as “a reserved area which is essentially for a well-grown and representative collection of trees or shrubs species planted and maintained for the purpose of reference, scientific studies and as a convenient source of seeds and herbarium materials.”
House Bill 2469 seeks to establish an arboretum in the premises of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Barangay Poblacion, Municipality of Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte to be known as the Kolambugan Arboretum.
House Bill 2470 seeks to establish an arboretum in the Municipality of Tagoloan, Lanao del Norte that shall include the Mighty Cave Park in it and shall be known as the Mighty Cave Park Arboretum.
House Bill 3696 seeks to establish an arboretum in the campus of the Mindanao State University – Lanao del Norte Agricultural College in Barangay Ramain, Municipality of Sultan Naga Dimaporo to be known as the MSU-LNAC Arboretum.
The three bills are authored by father-and-son Reps. Abdullah Dimaporo (2nd District, Lanao del Norte) and Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte).
The objectives of establishing arboretum in the specified areas are: for scientific purposes and to provide outdoor laboratory for scientific studies by faculty and students in dendrology, phenology, botany, environmental studies and other related fields of study; for the teaching of dendrology; as a sanctuary for the preservation and conservation of genetic resources of trees and shrubs, and as a model for environmentally sound landscape management and serve as the habitat for a variety of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and small mammals, making for an interesting mix of wildlife in the area, among others.
The elder Dimaporo explained an arboretum is an area devoted to specimen planting of woody plants which are either trees or shrubs.
“Distinct from a forest or park, it is in a sense an outdoor museum of trees. It is a place where many varieties of trees and shrubs are grown for research, educational, and ornamental purposes where trees and other woody plants are cultivated for exhibition,” he said.
Dimaporo further said an arboretum plays an important role in the lives of many people and is a valuable environmental, educational, recreational, and cultural resource for the country.
He said planting more trees mitigate the effects of climate change – as long as the right trees are planted in the right place and an arboretum is such one right place.
Dimaporo said the province of Lanao del Norte is already suffering from the effects of climate change – the lowering of the water level, disappearing forests and “bald” mountains.
He said the arboretum can supply the necessary seedlings in the future to reforest the destroyed watersheds of the province.
“An arboretum can showcase how the province would look like if we can revive the watersheds,” Dimaporo said.
One of the resource persons, Dr. Perry Ong of the University of the Philippines - Diliman Institute of Biology recommended that aside from an arboretum, which he described as a mechanism to address the problem of forest loss, an area should also be designated to plant the same species of trees that are planted in the arboretum.
“Ito yung mga puno na natural dun sa lugar na maipakita natin na ito ay nawala at ito ay gusto nating ibalik,” Ong said.
He also proposed the designation of an area or place for fire wood production saying, “Kelangan natin na merong fire wood production dahil kung walang makukuhang firewood na tinanim, sa natural na kagubatan na naman kukuha ang mga yan” referring to people who use firewood for cooking.
“Dapat mga dugtong dugtong na programa po ito. So meron kang arboretum which is more a protection education mechanism, tapos meron kang restoration component. Maglaan ng lupa na ganito kalaking ektarya ang tataniman natin para ibalik ang mga puno, para ma-ensure din natin na bumalik ang tubig dahil kung arboretum lang ang itatayo natin, limitado ang area na maiimbak niya. Kelangan din natin ang programa pabalik dun sa kabundukan kung saan nandun ang orihinal na kagubatan tapos sa baba naman meron firewood production areas din.”
Rep. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas (6th District, Pangasinan) expressed her support for the bill and said her district also needs an arboretum.
“Maganda ang bill ni Congressman Dimaporo. Hindi lahat na mga kongresista alam ang arboretum,” she said.
Agabas requested the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to include in its programs the creation of arboretums in the different provinces and maybe institutionalize it without Congress passing legislation on it.
Other members who attended the meeting are Reps. Makmod Mending, Jr. (Party-list, AMIN), Joseph Stephen Paduano (Party-list, ABANG LINGKOD), Julieta Cortuna (Party-list, A TEACEHR), Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), Rogelio Neil Roque (4th District, Bukidnon), Pablo Ortega (1st District, La Union), Lawrence Fortun (1st District, Agusan del Norte) and Scott Davies Lanete (3rd District, Masbate). / MVIP