Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tree-planting for more employment
In this time of recession here is a way to generate employment through nature consevation
In August 1995, I was in New Zealand for a brief work-related trip. While on my way to a dairy farm, I noticed that the forest formations on the hills on both sides of the road did not look like natural growth. They looked organized. I asked my guide from the New Zealand Dairy Cooperatives and learned from him that during the Great Depression in the early 1930s the New Zealand government decided to solve the unemployment problem by mobilizing many of the jobless to plant trees.
I checked the website of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and learned that the reforestation undertaken in New Zealand back then was so massive that by 1936, some 300,000 hectares of land were planted with trees. That tree-planting effort bore fruit decades later when the trees were mature enough to be harvested and became the resource base of New Zealand’s timber industry.
Now, getting thousands of unemployed Filipinos to work planting trees is an investment truly worth some billions of government and private sector funds. With higher unemployment anticipated next year because of the global economic downturn, this option deserves serious thought and action.
Perhaps, next summer, tens of thousands of college graduates and other job-seekers can be hired by the government and the private sector to plant trees all over the country. This could even be a continuing program and long-term solution to unemployment and underemployment in our country.
One place they can go to is Rodriquez (formerly Montalban) town in Rizal province, near the Wawa Dam. I was there last January for a tree-planting expedition of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), as a friend of the SVD. Many of the Montalban hills have no forest cover, just lots of grass. If Rodriguez and other areas with little or no forest cover do not grow new forests soon, the water supply of future Filipinos will be in grave danger.
The painting is by Benjamin Williams Leader