Palawan, Philippines – One hundred and twenty teachers and students from Central Taytay National High School (CTNHS), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and members of the local government of Taytay joined the tree-planting party in denuded areas of Mt. Mamaquen, an important watershed in Taytay, Palawan on 9 June 2016 to celebrate Coral Triangle Day. The volunteers planted ipil-ipil, ban, and narra tree species to revitalize the watershed on Mt. Mamaquen which has been affected by illegal logging and “slash and burn” farming.
CTNHS partnered with the Coastal and Marine Resources Management in the Coral Triangle – Southeast Asia (CTI-SEA) project for this year’s tree-planting. About 90 members of three student organizations including the Youth for Environment in Schools Organization (YES-O), the Supreme Student Government, Bayani ng Kalikasan (Heroes for the Environment) Club arrived in full force to plant trees.
The program included games, student performances, and a boodle fight. The event is part of an annual worldwide celebration to recognize the planet’s epicenter of marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle, and to shed light on how to protect and conserve it.
The Coral Triangle covers Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste. The Coral Triangle Day was first held in June 2012 in conjunction with World Oceans Day, which is celebrated on June 8.
The tree planting is one of the activities in the school’s “Adopt-a-Watershed” project and it also supports their “ridge-to-reef” ecosystem management program. This initiative grew from a mangrove reforestation project that the school started under CTI-SEA’s Heroes of the Environment Campaign in 2013. Since then, CTI-SEA has been monitoring the school’s progress and working with the teachers to make the program sustainable.
“Everyone, from the students to the teachers, is very committed to the reforestation project,” said Diana Mercado, Science Teacher at CTNHS. “We constantly try to come up with new ideas to improve what we’ve started. For example, right now, we’re building a small hut which will serve as a resting spot for future tourists in our mangrove site.”
CTNHS has been funding their ecosystem management program through a micro-enterprise that the teachers set up. They operate a small book supply store within the campus and the profit supports operation and maintenance expenses for the mangrove and watershed reforestation projects.
“The CTI-SEA project has opened our eyes to partnership opportunities with the community so now we are able to ask for help from the LGU and even the bishop. He has lent us the church’s truck so that we can reach our planting site safely,” added Mercado.
The efforts of CTNHS have reduced mangrove cutting in the area and has activated youth participation in environmental protection. Within the last three years, CTNHS has planted more than 14,000 mangrove propagules in two adjacent sites in Poblacion.