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Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative Jose Luis Fernandez (5th from the left) with students and faculties from Mary Mount High School

 

The challenge to invest more in forest education, even as he encouraged young minds to become forest scientists, foresters and policy-makers in the future sounded like a marching order by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to planners and the youth in a speech delivered for him recently at the Trinoma, North Avenue, Quezon City, by DENR Assistant Secretary for Field Operations-Southern Luzon Reynulfo Juan before an audience composed mostly of students and millennials, as the Philippines led by the DENR and the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) joined the rest of the world in the observance of the International Day of Forests.

“Forest and Education” is this year’s theme of the International Day of Forests held every 21st of March since its proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. The theme corresponds to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 Quality Education and SDG 15 Life on Land. The Collaborative Partnership on Forests selects a theme that would encapsulate forest contributions to the 200 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Guided by the assigned theme, countries pilot various local, national, and international initiatives involving forest-related activities.

 

To raise awareness on the importance of Philippine forests among the youth, the FMB collaborated with OVP Technologies, Inc. in staging an event dubbed Paydro Live, a trivia game show mobile application launched by said Filipino software developers. The game format aims to make learning about forest less intimidating and more fun for players.

Interactive booths to refresh players’ knowledge on Philippines forests and trees

The game consists of 11 multiple-choice questions about IDF and forest-related topics and participants were Grade 9 and 10 students from Old Balara Christian Community School and Marymount High School, all located in Quezon City. Online participation was also allowed with the downloading of the Paydro application. As the game show progressed, questions got trickier and harder, to gauge the extent of participants knowledge about forests. Players were given the chance to win a hundred thousand pesos (Php100,000.00). Apart from Paydro Live, which was the highlight of the celebration at the Trinoma, there were also video presentations, mini games, and booths which were all geared to enhance the awareness on forests and trees.

The event was also graced by the presence of  FAO Representative Jose Luis Fernandez and FMB Director Nonito M. Tamayo with the latter stressing that with the “growing population, all the more that we should be concerned about the role that forests play in the light of ... climate change.” Director Tamayo emphasized the importance of being well-equipped with knowledge as we experience different environmental phenomena that pose harm to us and other living beings.

 

 

Learning to love forest

This year’s theme emphasizes that it is never too young to start learning about forests. Encouraging the youth, a formidable sector who will take over the reins of governance in the future, to connect with nature is a crucial step in ensuring the sustainability of our forests lands.  

FMB, at the forefront in forwarding thrusts for the protection, development, and conservation of the country’s forestlands and watershed, is taking measures to fulfill Kagubatan Tayo (Forest Tayo) 2016-2028. This is the Philippine Master Plan for Climate Resilient Forestry Development, which aims to make watersheds and forest ecosystems resilient in the face of climate change, supervise and monitor our natural resources, and derive environmental benefits to improve the lives of Filipinos. The celebration of IDF 2019 is an effective avenue to reach out to communities and promote awareness on such programs and campaigns.

After participating in the event, students expressed their views as well as their pledges for their newfound interest and appreciation for the forest.

Roanne, 15, urges us to appreciate the country’s flora and fauna “because we benefit from it more than we realize.” Affirming this, Kristine, 16, further adds that “kailangan talaga na mas pag-aralan ang environment” (learning about the environment is a must). She admits that forest-related topics are not tackled intensively in their lessons. After the event, she promises to still put an effort in expanding her knowledge about the forest and the environment. On the otherhand, Francine, 15, already has a concrete action plan. “Magpaplant po ako pati mga friends ko” (My friends and I will plant trees).

These promises, while coming from select tiny voices of the youth, will accumulate and bring us closer to healthier forests.

For more information about IDF 2019, visit https://www.un.org/en/events/forestsday/.