Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Plant Trees on Palm Sunday - an Appeal to Christendom

Dr Abe V Rotor
School on Blog 
Please don't destroy Nature. Don't kill the palm trees and endangered species (Cycads, buri, others).

This is also an appeal addressed to the Church, the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and other agencies whose functions are related. Ostentatious celebration of Palm Sunday is detrimental to the coconut industry, and the endangerment, if not extinction of palms, among them buri and anahaw - and the living fossil Cycad or oliva.  

Notice that most of the palaspas held by the faithful are young leaves or bud leaves of coconut and buri.

Palaspas in different designs made of young leaves of coconut, and the endangered buri (Corypha elata) and anahaw (Livistona rotondifolia) species, are sold in the open on Palm Sunday. A large percentage of palaspas ends in waste which otherwise could be made into gainful products.

How can we help save the palm trees?

1. Don't patronize palaspas made of young or bud leaves (white to yellow green to pale green, supple and easy to wilt).

2. Get only those with deep green color - they are of mature leaves. There is not much harm to tree, if the number of leaves harvested is regulated. Heavily pruned trees recover slow and their fruiting is drastically affected.

3. Never buy palaspas made from whole leaves of 
oliva and other Cycad species - they are highly endangered. Actually they are living fossils, much older than the dinosaur.

4. Reject also buri, it is the raw material of home industries making mats, butal hat, bags, decors, broom, and many others. You will be depriving the livelihood of hundreds of families.

5. Anahaw, nipa (
Nypha frutescens), bunga (Areca catechu), sugar palm (Arenga pinnata) likewise provide the industries of many more families. They are the sources of alcohol, wine, vinegar, brushes, fabric and cordage, medicine and drugs, fuel and activated charcoal, and many others. You can be of great help to these industries and thousands of people depending on them.

6. Why carry a whole bunch of palaspas when a handy size or even "feather-size" for that matter is a sufficient manifestation of sincere devotion?

7. One palaspas for a family is enough, not one for each member. Save the trees, save money and effort, and avoid thrash. Have you noticed how unsold palaspas are thrown away or burned?

8. Use substitute materials, like ornamental palms - palmera, red palm, bunga de Jolo, MacArthur palm, and several species of 
Pinanga and Orania. The reason palm is used on Pakm Sunday is because in the place of Christ in His time, few plants survive the harsh desert condition - date palm and olive among them which grow in oases, pockets of spring in the desert.

9. Your effort in this campaign can be translated in practical economics and ecological significance. The coconut is the source of many products from 
walis tingting (broom made of midribs), to virgin coconut oil. There are one-hundred-and-one coconut products. Its ecological significance is tremendous. It's one crop you don't take care at all. It ripraps the shorelines from tidal wave and rising sea level. Physiologically the coconut plant can filter off toxic metals, pesticide residues, hydrocarbon compounds, and other toxic substances. No crop is more versatile worldwide - and the Philippines is endowed with this gift of nature.

10. Talk to your priest or minister, take this matter up with your church organizations. Be assertive, this is vital to our environmental and socio economic problems. Support this campaign collectively, as a community effort. Course it through the heirarchy of the church, if necessary. Make press releases and broadcast on TV and radio.
Palm trees are the frontliners on shorelines and estuaries against tidal wave and tsunami as observed with coconut trees riprapping the land from sea, nipa grove blanketing deltas and mudflat arresting soil from being washed away to the sea. They provide a nursery and sanctuary to both terrestrial and marine organisms. 

How much do we lose from a single coconut tree sacrificed on one occasion?

A fruiting coconut normally lives for twenty years, others twice as long. Nuts are harvested every two months with 10 nuts to as many as 30. Young nuts (
buko) are sold P10 each (P20 in Manila); commercial mature nuts for copra (to be made into vegetable oil) sell for P5 each, ex-farm.

Here is an actual case: Buko at P10, and 100 nuts harvested a year is worth P1,000. Double the yield or the price means P2,000 a year. That's P20,000 for ten years for a single tree. Double that if the tree lives for another ten years.

For mature nuts (picked up on the farm), the farmer gets half the value, but he simply waits for the nuts to mature. Meantime, he plants between the nuts cash crops and high value crops (coffee, cacao, papaya, root crops, vegetables lanzones) and gets additonal, if not more income. This is only possible in a coconut grove.
A coconut plantation is the only man-made agricultural ecosystem with a very high biodiversity, that can be sustained generation after generation. (AVR)
It is safe to estimate that on just one occasion when thousands and thousands of coconut trees in the tropics are sacrificed, the potential loss runs to hundreds of millions of dollars. It means poverty and death, erosion and landslide, loss of shorelines and farmlands, deprivation of people from the opportunities to enjoy the good life.

Let's join the campaign: 
Let's save the palm trees on Palm Sunday (and thereafter, for that matter).

A buri palm lives up to a century. Before it dies, it profusely produces an inflorescence that turns out thousands of nuts. The nuts are transported by water and animals to new places where they germinate and grow. It takes at least five years to gain a niche in the new place. (PHOTO, right)

Cycad or Oliva, as old as the time of the dinosaurs, hence called living fossil. During the Triassic and Jurassic, the time of their greatest diversity, cycads made up 20% of the world flora. Photo taken by the author in Lagro, QC.

Article from Paper read during the Capiz Archdiocesan Gathering of the Clergy by the author as Conference Speaker August 4, 2011. 
Reference: Living with Nature Book Series, AVRotor 2004, 2007

No comments: