Possible world record: 25,000 volunteers plant 120,000 trees in Koronadal

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/01 July) – An estimated record-breaking 120,000 seedlings of various fruit trees were planted by thousands of volunteers here Wednesday morning as the city launched its first ever Tree Growing Festival.

Around 25,000 local residents took to the city’s major streets in a festive mood as early as 4am Wednesday to join the mass tree planting festivities, which could have set a new Guinness world record for the most number of trees planted simultaneously.

“Today, we came out and planted the trees of our future. This is a historic day. This is the start of the greening of Koronadal,” Mayor Peter Miguel told a crowd that gathered at the city hall grounds here for the simultaneous tree planting countdown at around 9:30am.

Malacanang had declared Wednesday as a special non-working holiday in the entire city in support of the mass tree planting activity.

The mayor said they have yet to determine the exact number of trees that were planted but he said initial reports from their coordinators showed that all 120,000 seedlings that were prepared by the city government for the mass tree planting were all used up.

The seedlings were planted in at least 24 sites covering some 250 hectares of forest lands at the critical Roxas mountain range, which straddles Barangays Saravia, Carpenter Hill, San Isidro, Assumption, Mambucal and Paraiso.

The city government, which commissioned a private plane for the documentation of the activity, earlier signified to seek recognition of the activity for a possible new Guinness world record.

According to the Guinness website, the current world record for the most number of trees planted simultaneously was set only last February 23 in Siruma and Tinambac towns in Camarines Sur under the El Verde program.

Siruma and Tinambac residents planted a total of 64,096 trees on some 31,000 hectares of land, breaking an earlier record set by India.

Miguel said they consider the activity as “a huge success” despite initial problems with the lack of available vehicles to ferry the volunteers to the tree planting sites.

He said the tree planting countdown, which was initially scheduled at 8am, was reset to 9:30am due to the late arrival of the volunteers to the sites.

The mayor said some volunteers even hiked for at least one hour to the tree planting sites, which included some of the identified landslide-prone areas of the city.

Several student volunteers were also brought to a hospital here after sustaining some injuries due to separate accidents on the way to the site.

“The overall mood was very festive. Everyone went home very happy and satisfied,” Miguel told reporters.

To sustain the activity, the mayor said they have forged a memorandum of understanding with stakeholders or residents within the tree planting sites for the proper care and monitoring of the newly-planted trees.

He said the city government is also planning link up with local schools in the city for the establishment of a tree nursery in their respective campuses or areas.

Miguel said such move is in preparation for the next year’s leg of the mass tree planting, which would cover another 400 hectares of the Roxas mountain range.

The mayor said they are also considering requiring all 150,000 residents of the city to plant at least a tree each for the next Tree Growing Festival.

“Those who are well and able, we will go to the mountains and plant more trees. Those who can’t for various reasons will be planting trees in their homes,” Miguel said.

In a briefer, the local government noted that the festivities aimed to promote environmental volunteerism among residents and the rehabilitation of the city’s declining forest reserve.

A report from the City Environment and Natural Resources Office cited that less than one percent or barely 150 hectares of the city ‘s 27,000-hectare total land area were left so far as forest reserve. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)