Saving Our Forests, One Seed at a Time


More importantly, our determination can help solve the challenges of the present generation, such as poverty, deforestation and the ill effects of climate change. He said that if we feel that the temperature is humid, we can ask ourselves “why isn’t there enough shade tocool us off?”

We might have all said this at one point in time – and Dionisio kept saying this when he was trekking along the volcanic ash-laden valleys of Zambales.

According to him, temperature of places with trees and those without it can have a variance of up to 13 degrees Celsius, based on his personal statistical recordings.

The shade and forest cover also creates a water cycle that has been the basis of life since the beginning of time – only to be disrupted by humanity in the past 200 years.

“I really hope that everyone can plant a tree somewhere – in their backyards or even in someone else’s,” Dionisio said.

“I also wish that we would buy things that won’t kill the forests, and support brands that support our planet,” he added.

Dionisio keeps hoping that all governments can seriously consider implementing reforestation initiatives properly – since farmers are sure to benefit from the water flow it will generate.

Survival of the human race

“It is actually a matter of survival as a human race,” he pointed out.

Raf explained that taking care of the environment can mean taking care of ourselves, because forests can lower global temperatures.

He also emphasized that “kaingin,” or the slash and burn method of farming, is one of the perennial practices that badly affect nature – an old system for an old environment.

In the past, migrant farmers usually enter the forest, clear a patch with fire, and plant on the freshly cleared area, making the soil rich and fertile.

This practice entailed planting for one season then leaving the area, allowing it to regenerate for years. That happened easily within the forest.

Sadly, today is far different because kaingin has caused forests to degrade, up to the extent of affecting natural water systems.

“In Zambales, a lot of farmers still practice this method because it’s fast, but are unaware of the change in the environmental context,” he pointed out.

“Kaingin is an old system that does not fit into this new world....very similar to our previous way of living as humans, which was not meant for a world with Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019),” he emphasized.

Livelihood opportunities

“That is the reason why it’s important for us to provide farmers with livelihood opportunities, and train them so they can plant with more sustainable soil management systems – something very close to my heart,” he added.

To turn his advocacy into reality, Dionisio, together with close associates, spearheaded the creation of Make A Difference Travel or simply MAD Travel – a Philippinebased social enterprise that works with and for marginalized communities in creating impactful, inspiring and authentic experiences through interactive experiences.

“We at MAD Travel create innovative solutions for a positive impact,” he said.

This initiative then spawned MAD Market to continue supporting local farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) during the Covid-19 pandemic by delivering fresh fruits, vegetables and baked products straight to people’s doorsteps.

With the travel restrictions and lockdowns, farmers and small businesses were among the hardest hit.

By sourcing from farmers in different areas, as well as small home-grown bakeries, MAD Market hopes to help keep livelihoods going, lessen the risk of people going outside their residences, and provide healthier food options. “I also encourage the establishments of fruit farms in the country to make sure that each of our towns can have access to nutritious, quality and low cost farm products,” Raf said.

“If you want to plant a tree, let us know, you can grab one with MAD Market. We also have online courses coming up if you want to learn more about social entrepreneurship coming from active change makers,” he said.

“Through this effort, we’ve got a mini forest already growing, thanks to the help coming from so many people and, of course, the Aetas who worked hard to care for the environment. This is just the beginning – we need 30 million trees more to help fight the climate crisis – one seed at a time,” Dionisio said.

Source: Greenfields Magazine Issue 288