Friday, September 18, 2009
Early this week, we were at the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation compound across the Capitol lagoon on invitation of our friend Robert Harland.
with Primo Esleyer
The preservation of endangered species of animals and birds has interested us. If these animals cannot survive because of the loss of habitat and ecological balance, what guarantee that man can survive in his environment, too?
Teddy Boy Infante, an official of the Foundation discussed with us the ecological situation in the province. Infante said, in 1875 the province was covered 95 percent with forests.
In mid 1970s this was down to only 8 percent, 6 percent in 1984 and only 4 percent in 1992. This is documented by satellite mapping.
The biggest culprit, Infante said, was the American owned Insular Lumber Co. that denuded the forests in northern Negros and when all the tress were cut, it went down to Hinoba-an in the south and cut the tress for export abroad.
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Then in 1984, Typhoon Nitang devastated the province leaving in its wake massive destruction because of the lack of forests.
This led a group of civic-spirited citizens led by Donato Poblador and Infante himself to set up the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation and later, then Gov. Bitay Lacson donated an area across the lagoon for the preservation of endangered species.
Together with Boy Infante and Robert Harland, we had Paul Lizares who manages the Foundation and Jo Anne Justo as curator.
We were then toured around to see the spotted deer, the only one in the country and in the world. I plan to take my grandchildren there.
There were also the wild pigs, wild lizards, and other rare birds like the hornbill. Schoolchildren must visit the place.
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We write this piece in the hope it will open the eyes of our people to the current fragile state of our environment and also hoping our friends do their share to support the Foundation. This is survival for us.
How can they do their share? Infante and Harland said, they can plant trees and NFEFI can assist you in organizing tree planting.
You should also not support illegal wildlife trade and not buying products made from parts of wild animals.
We must be proud our country is extraordinarily rich in plants and animals. A total of 556 species of birds have been recorded in the Philippines and which 169 species are found only here and not anywhere.
There are at least 180 of land mammals and every year new species are found which are endemic or native to our place.
For reptiles and amphibians there are at least 293, of which 214 are endemic to Negros .
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The three Visayan islands, Panay, Negros, and Cebu have the same flora and fauna or plants and animals which shows that millions of years ago we were just one big island.
It is really tragic that many of us have not realized this wealth of plant and animal species in our midst and yet we do not value their preservation.
Our own endemic tress, are among the best hard wood in the world. Molave, narra, talisay, udling, are among our native trees.
Mahogany, acacia, neem, fire trees are from other countries.
We do not realize how important are things until we lose them. We need to preserve them. Do your share.*