We believe that to make true, permanent change, we must use a holistic approach to reforestation. That is why we have partnered up with the Indigenous People (IP) of Bukidnon and continue to expand our relationships, prioritizing mutual trust and respect at every turn. Armed with these relationships, we employ a multi-faceted strategy that begins with our Family Food Sufficiency (FFS) program, followed by our Sustainable Disposable Income Crop (SDIC) program, and finally, our reforestation program.
Throughout the entire process, Hineleban Foundation and our partner Indigenous communities work together on the following:
- Respecting the signed Sacred Customary Compact
- Working with the values upheld by the 5 Pillars of the Indigenous People
- Participatory Community Impact Assessment (PCIA)
- Securing the tribe's Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC)
- Participating in Rituals of the Indigenous People
Family Food Sufficiency
The FFS program has a single goal: to ensure that each of our partner communities is able to sustain itself. Hineleban Foundation provides stock, technical support and training to communities, which they then apply in a tradition called hunglus.
Typically with hunglus, the datu (chieftain) of the community will elect one family to begin the process of growing their own food sustainably. Neighbours assist the family, as a form of apprenticeship and training. Once the first family becomes self-sufficient, other families begin cultivating their own gardens.
A family of ten people only needs a plot of 3,700 sq. metres to grow a variety of native crops that will provide them with all of their nutritional requirements for a whole year. These crops include lutya (taro), adlai, and yakon, among many others. This is further supplemented with livestock including chickens, pigs and tilapia fish, all raised by the family.
Sustainable Disposable Income Crop
The next step in our process brings us to the SDIC program. In this stage, we work with our partner indigenous communities to provide supplementary income for themselves. Our specialised team helps the community decide what high-value crops are best suited to their climate, based on the soil quality and elevation of the IP communities. To date various communities have been able to successfully cultivating lutya, adlai, abaca, Arabica coffee and even giant bamboo. Hineleban Foundation further advises the communities regarding marketing their products and assists in finding corporate buyers, if the community requests this.
Additionally, if the communities are in agreement, the foundation’s sister company (KADC) embarks on a Transformational Business Partnership with the communities. In this relationship, the partner corporation buys the harvest from the communities at market value, or more, and proceeds with quality control, processing, packaging and marketing to consumers. The profit generated from these sales are then shared with the communities at a 50-50 or 60-40 basis.
Hineleban Foundation endorses this new business model, but we would like to stress the point that our partner communities are at liberty to sell their harvest to anyone they choose. We are always eager to hear from potential corporate partners and encourage you to contact us. At the same time, we would like to invite other corporations to learn more about the Transformational Business Partnership model and consider adopting this method.
The Status of Philippine Forests
After decades of logging, cogon grass (Imperata Cyclindrica) has taken over the Philippine landscape. It’s heavily interlocked root system strangles any tree seedlings in its vicinity, making it extremely difficult to reforest. Simply weeding out cogon grass won’t eradicate their root system — the grass is also acidic, and continually depletes the nutrients from the soil.
Additionally, mature cogon grass easily catches fire in the dry season. Since heat travels up, the grass burns up the mountain, into the front line of forest trees, hastening the destruction of our remaining primary rainforest.
Step 1: Removing cogon and other aggressive weeds
Before any tree is planted, our partner IP communities ensure that the land is cleared, with particular focus on clearing cogon and talahib, as these aggressive grasses can deprive newly planted trees of sunlight, nutrients and space to grow.
Step 2: Introducing calliandra
Calliandra is a fast-growing, leguminous tree. It has a shrub-like appearance and, at around two years (depending on the elevation of the planting site) old, will form a solid canopy which then blocks out the sun and “drowns” the grasses that inhibit other tree species’ growth.
Calliandra, being a legume, begins regenerating the soil the minute it is planted. It converts nitrogen into ammonia, which it releases into the soil. This infusion, and the lack of weeds that would suffocate tree seedlings, creates an ideal environment for seedlings to grow in.
Additionally, calliandra provides excellent firewood — it burns very hot but also lasts a long time. It is a favorite for bakeshops that use pugon (traditional clay ovens) because of its steady burn. And when cut at either a branch or at its base, the tree regenerates and grows back quickly.
Thus, the third benefit of calliandra: communities now prefer to cut it over the more laborious and counter-productive task of chopping down forest trees for firewood.
Step 3: Planting forest trees
Caribbean pine trees and Brazilian fire trees are both exotic, but non-invasive species, are planted next to support the growth of endemic tree species, which are planted one year later, when the environment has reached an optimal level to nurture the seedlings.
These species both make for excellent construction material and reach maturity in a relatively short amount of time — thus, when they reach maturity, they can be harvested and sold for supplementary income for the communities.
We envision a future in which the forest is lush and rich with life, where local tree species like apitong and lauan make up the canopy of the forest. Along with this, our partner Indigenous communities are thriving as they live on their revitalised ancestral lands. Wildlife populations are restored and protected; and watershed systems, which provide for the entirety of Mindanao, are intact.
It will take a while to get there, but we are fully committed to seeing this vision become a reality. We’d love it if you joined us on this journey.