In response to Pope Francis’ call on Care for our Common Home and aligning with Sustainable Development Goals, the SVD congregation in the Philippines Central Province is committing to plant 100,000 seedlings of Bamboo by 2022. We are looking forward to setting an ambitious goal for planting 1 billion bamboos by 2030, collaborating with the local churches of parishes and dioceses in the Philippines.
The first reason is climate change. Bamboo absorbs 35% more carbon dioxide than an ordinary tree. A hectare of Bamboo absorbs 12 tons of carbon dioxide annually. Second, bamboo trees prevent erosion and flooding. A clump of Bamboo absorbs 30,000 liters of water annually. Then the third, Bamboo, is helpful for livelihood. If we process the bamboo shoots, we turn the bamboo poles into furniture and construction material.
The government estimates that if we plant a billion bamboo, this will result in 15 billion dollars annual income. We believe that it is even a conservative estimate. We think it will reach up to 25 billion dollars annually if we put the right factories in the right place and have massive bamboo planting.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) country representative, Silver Ramachandran, recently visited Secretary Roy Simatu of the Environment and Natural Resources Department. Secretary Simatu asked help to set up bamboo setups, small bamboo farms, and bamboo seedling nurseries in each of the municipalities in the Philippines. So we have hope that we can do this; that we can plant a billion bamboo, absorb gig tons of carbon dioxide from the air, give jobs to a lot of people, and prevent erosion and flooding, which caused a lot of property damage and even life.
We would like to call on everyone to join us in the whole Philippines, even in the entire world. We are now collaborating with the Global Climate Action Project, and they are building for us an App with a geotagging feature to monitor the number of bamboos planted. After joining our baseline data, you can see it in Google Maps afterward. I would like to thank the UNDP for its help in our bamboo advocacy. We want to call on everyone on this planet to do something about climate change.
We greet their representatives and delegates of COP26 in Glasgow and hope to make a difference because otherwise, climate change will become irreversible. We have no other choice. This is the only planet that we have. Let us take Care of it for future generations and ourselves.
The year 2030 is the deadline that the scientists are saying. We must keep warming at 1.5°C by 2030; otherwise, climate change will become irreversible. Bamboo helps mitigate climate change, preventing erosion and flooding, and increasing people’s economic profit and well-being, especially for the poor.
Planting One billion Bamboo by 2030
Planting one billion bamboos is not an idle dream. In the Philippines, we are responsible only for 2% of the greenhouse gas, but super typhoons will hit us as first ones. I think the willingness is there. Second, the government wants every village to have a seedling nursery. There is a law called The Philippine Bamboo Industrial Development Act. The government will fund the seedling nurseries, supporting the putting up of factories to produce engineered Bamboo. Logging is already outlawed in the Philippines. It is forbidden to cut a tree without permission from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
So, we have moved. My Province, the SVD Central Province, has pledged during the Provincial Chapter 100,000 bamboo seedlings planted by 2022. The Governor from the South was here. He said he would also help us plant. Then, there’s a law, another law. Elementary, high school, and college graduates cannot graduate, and they are not given their diplomas if they will not plant ten trees each. So, that’s it. That would be a lot because we have 28 million elementary school students. How many will graduate? Then we have college graduates also. We believe that it is doable. We might not be able to do it, but it is possible. It is not an impossible dream to plant 1 billion bamboos in the Philippines.
Absorb gig tons of greenhouse gases, prevent erosion and flooding, loss of lives and property, and then give jobs to thousands of people if we can do this because the government is already mobilizing. They only need some help from the developed countries who are responsible for most greenhouse gases plaguing us now, especially in the Philippines. Then, the churches are mobilizing. I leave it up to seminarians in Mindanao, Cagayan De Oro, Saint John Vianney, Seminary, who are mobilizing the bishops, and there is a possibility. Archbishop Emeritus Antonio Ledesma, SJ, said he would talk to all the bishops so that the whole diocese, all the dioceses in Mindanao, would help in the bamboo advocacy.
I just received a message that the Global Climate Action Project has given us an app. The kids will download the app on their cell phones, point it at the seedlings before they plant, and then point it again when they plant it. Then, they can monitor the seedlings whether they survived and thrived even one year after.
So, the Global Climate Action Project is asking people from all over the world to sponsor one seedling for five dollars. We will take Care of planting it. Then we can assure you that we will plant it. Then if you check one year afterward, you could see whether the seedling survives. If not, we will commit ourselves to plant another one, still in your name. Therefore, we have high hopes that with the Church, the government, the corporate world, the academe, the universities and colleges, they have their bamboo seedling nurseries now. Then, we have a lot of land – idle land. It is mainly in the mountains, but that is where bamboo likes to grow. We have two or three million hectares of ancestral domain. We have a law that all indigenous peoples, every tribe, will be given a particular plot of land. I am talking to the Dumagats, for example, they have nineteen thousand hectares hardly planted to anything. Then there is another group, in Montalban, near Manila, 30,000 ha. Suppose we could plant all those with Bamboo.