TUBA, Benguet – Padcal mine, Philex Mining Corp.’s gold-and-copper operations in this province, has collected about 14,000 seeds of various forest and fruit-bearing trees from the personnel of its 15 departments, following the launch of a seed-bank project that aims to boost the number of seedlings at the company’s nursery.
Dubbed “Sa Buto, May Buhay” (“In a Seed, There’s Life”), the project kicked off in mid-July, with the Geology and Exploration Division leading the number of seeds contributed at 4,546, followed by the Medical Dept. at 2,308, and the Legal Dept. at 1,659 as at end-August.
Julius Bayogan, manager at Padcal’s Environmental Quality Monitoring and Enhancement Dept. (EQMED), said the collected seeds have been sent to the 10,000-square-meter (sq. m.) or 1-hectare (ha.) nursery for germination. “This project will surely increase the number of seedlings that we can prepare for tree-planting activities in the future,” he added.
There are 30,000 seedlings of various species of forest and fruit-bearing trees, and tropical ornamental plants left at the nursery, following the planting of 120,000 seedlings starting from May 31 in line with Philex Mining’s annual reforestation program, according to Leon Mocate, senior forestry coordinator at the EQMED.
He said that by end-September, 130,000 seedlings will have been planted in more than 500,000 sq. m. of land, comprising 10 separate areas, in the host towns of Tuba and Itogon, with a survival rate of 90 percent. “After September, this year’s reforestation program will focus on the maintenance of the previously reforested areas,” Mocate stressed.
It was the Padcal personnel from the same 15 departments who had volunteered and kicked off the planting of trees and tropical plants for this year’s environmental program, a project worth P910,281 that has been reinforced through the company’s engagement of 10 contractors, each with a team of at least five people.
The program’s aim was to reforest 50 has. of land with 83,350 trees, including the forest trees of Benguet pine, kupang, narra, ipil-ipil, and antsoan dilau; guava, a fruit-bearing tree; and the tropical flowering plants bougainvillea, calliandra, and coffee. “In other words, we have already exceeded our target on the number of trees to be planted,” Mocate said.
EQMED’s Jessica Peralta, who is in-charge of logging the seeds being contributed toward the seed-bank project, said the department has decided to make this an ongoing activity. “There has been an enthusiastic and overwhelming response from employees and all the 15 departments of Padcal mine, and this is enough reason for us to continue with this worthy endeavor,” she added.
She said each collected seed—which varies from avocado and santol to lanzones and longan, and to tamarind and guava, among other species—has a corresponding score and entered into a collating point system that determines the monthly top three winners based on the number of seeds deposited toward the nursery’s seed bank.
This year’s budget for reforestation reached a total of P2.1 million, including the maintenance of areas that had been reforested earlier. EQMED personnel and contracted individuals work side-by-side in maintaining the reforested areas through ring weeding, applying fertilizers, and planting of seedlings to replace the trees that did not survive.