IT IS said that in Mountain Province 80 percent of the land area is still forested.

Though some parts have become central habitations for people, four fifths have managed to stay the way they were. The little portions that were made towns are almost always centralized, a few households straying further away to tend to their conquered lands.

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The people of the Mountain Province have for decades stuck to the idea that one should only take what he is apportioned to use, this includes the use of trees as well. The mountain dwellers believe that throughout time, the forests have served as protection and shelter, foraging areas for their livestock, as their source of food, water retainers and a place to get lost in.

Like the old American Indians who first have to ask permission from the trees they felled and the animals they butcher for food, the people of the northern tribes somehow do the same. A little prayer, a little offering of liquid spirit, a smidge of tobacco or a chicken sacrifice and they felled the trees they needed.

That was how it used to be. These days are different though. With the dynamics of the modern world and the need to shelter more people, trees or the forests in general are under threat.

The siege has begun, and the forests are receding without much of a fight. Maybe in their silent states they are protesting and shrieking in vain.

The creatures that live within their enclaves, echoing the screams of the aching habitat are helpless against the onslaught caused by man.

The forests of the Mountain Province is a lot better in comparison to other provinces, but should the people let that issue conquer the pride and start denudation for the sake of agriculture expansion, business logging and development by infrastructure?

Such are the dilemmas of the modern people. The need maybe understandable but more and more these days, the “want” aggravates the situation. With all the logging and tree burning happening in the area, comes a time when the statistics of 80 percent may turn and deplete.

For what are we protecting the trees for? This generation may not be feeling the worse effects, yet the children of tomorrow may not even know the meaning of forests or trees. The extinction the threats of climate change may bring may in time even forget all the discoveries and developments man made in the thousands of years of existence.

The relationship of protecting ecology and climate change is a very crucial subject. Some scientists even refute the idea that global warming is happening all because around the world a lot of places are buried under snow. The US for one has a record that of the 50 states, it snowed in 49. But that should not stop people or make people stray from the idea that climate change or global warming for one is not happening or would happen in the near future.

In a smaller scale, everybody has to have the “preventive state of mind”. Not to wait for it to happen but prevent it from happening. As such a PAENRO board was organized in the Mt. Province by Governor Maximo B. Dalog.

Dalog for one encourages everybody to do a bit of his share. A large number of people in the province still consider agriculture their main livelihood source that for a fact requires areas to garden and farm.

Understandably also are facts that clearings had to be made for the purpose.

But the extensive burning of trees to clear more agricultural space is something uncalled for. The reasoning that people have to clear areas to farm, to farm for food, food to live is almost always at the tip of the sword being shoved into most pro active ecological advocate. Can any advocate feed these people or send their children to school if they stop their activities and they starve?

The frustrating dilemma is an overwhelming point to ponder by everybody, something the government should seriously look into and do something about in a more massive drive, a continuing surge that has to go on until something good comes out of it and if possible eradicate the problem altogether.

Alternative farming and other livelihood programs are indeed good but are useless without a market.

Then again everyone should start with the basics. Mt. Province is now under alert to do just this and with a very good purpose. To stop the burnings the governor has a plea: “Let our children experience the nature we once enjoyed.”

Simple but to the core. Interested people with brains and hearts for the cause of ecological protection can be part of the “One Million Trees” program. This ambitious program to plant around a million trees a year in the areas around Mt. Province seems like a distant dream but is attainable.

For a single person to be able to plant 10 seedlings multiplied by the number of willing population is a start. And for purposes of livelihood, fruit-bearing trees are a good fare to that. Let the movement start and the people can say they made a difference.

In the ways of the forefathers, let us protect the forests that protected us.