Environmental group to public: help fight grass and forest fires; plant more trees

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/29 March) – An environmental protection advocacy group has appealed to the public to help fight grass and forest fires and to continue tree planting.

In a statement, the Balik Kalikasan Advocacy Group (BKAG), said forest fires, if left unattended, could damage properties and even claim lives. A dry spell has been noted in the area since January.

The BKAG cited a case of grass fire at the back of Maguindanao police provincial office in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao which damaged about two hectares of grass. It was put off by residents, firemen and civilians.

“Any destruction to forests put the environment in serious danger thus everybody’s participation is being solicited form the general public. Climate change has been destroying agricultural products, turning green forest into brown which indicates a dying forest,” the BKAG said.

A clear sign of changing environment is that people easily get dehydrated as in the case of internally displaced persons (IDPs or evacuees, bakwits) displaced by armed conflict and staying in evacuation centers in Maguindanao.

The BKAG said the trees planted in the past decade have been helping the evacuees. The group planted Talipao and Antipolo trees along the highways in Maguindanao which are now used by IDPs.

The group cited records showing that about 50 percent of the more than one million trees it planted in the past 10 years have survived are contributing to the ecosystem of Maguindanao.

The BKAG continues to advocate environmental protection programs, spearheaded by the officers and men of the 6th Infantry Division, Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DENR-ARMM), civil society, business, academe, private sectors and the media.

In September last year, BKAG actively participated in the TreeVolution Mindanao, an island-wide one-hour simultaneous tree planting program which broke the Guinness Book of World Records.

“The most trees planted simultaneously at multiple locations is 2,294,629, achieved by 122,168 participants in an event organized by TreeVolution: Greening MindaNOW (Philippines) at 29 locations across the Philippines on 26 September 2014,” the Guinness World Records said in a statement.

TreeVolution volunteers planted rubber, cacao, timber, mahogany, and a variety of fruit trees across Mindanao. A previous record-holder, India, planted 1,945,525 trees.

In preparation for the coming rainy season, BKAG has prepared Antipolo and Talipao trees in its nursery in Minrico compound, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. These seedlings will be available for free to any group that wishes to participate in tree planting activities or greening program. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)