By Jean Lindo, MD
On September 26, 2014, the Department of Environmental Resources (DENR) in partnership with Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) initiated a tree-planting activity dubbed as TREEVOLUTION.
The word as coined is a very smart one…it captures two words…the tree and the revolution. Together, the two words imply that trees can be a means to liberate and empower the people. But I would like to add another word to complete the beautiful picture…the evolution.
How can these three words become relevant beyond public relations and beyond a contest or a Guinness event?
Since it is supposed to be a revolution, it should undergo contextual analysis of climate injustice. It should identify all the driving forces of climate injustice. This contextual analysis should be done by the people who are most affected by the issues of injustices. The people identify and analyze the multiple problems and should find their own solutions.
As a comprehensive program, a Treevolution can evolve into something meaningful, bringing about social change. It should bring about a change in the way of analysis and in the way of doing things. This is where EVOLUTION becomes relevant. From a Guinness event it should evolve into a comprehensive program. It should be continuous. There should be a space for levelling up, a deepening of understanding based on rights, solidarity and equality of citizens, especially the climate disaster survivors.
We do not want another GREEN REVOLUTION reminiscent of the Marcos dictatorship. It was everything but green and everything but a revolution. The program promoted the pesticides and fertilizers of big corporations and benefited only the business sector. There was no genuine agrarian reform and the supposed support for the farmers did not bring about development for the farmers.
Of course we want a treevolution that translates into the kind of trees being planted. There should be diversity in the species being planted and should not be confined to cash crops. There should be more trees that contribute to the prevention or reduction of soil erosion or bring about climate solution that should be planted, like the bamboos and the mangroves and forest trees. The trees should be planted to protect biodiversity and prevent erosion and improve the livelihood of the communities as a result of the climate solution.
The treevolution should be people-centered. The event should not be done to favor corporations because they are required carbon sink. The people’s output should not be part of that required of the corporations. We have different responsibilities and more is required of those who use the most resources.
Furthermore, the program planners should be aware that the treevolution is not cure all. It will not succeed if coal energy continues. It must be noted that coal-fired power plants contribute 40% of carbon emission and this has led to exceeding the limit of 350 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. The level is now at 400 parts per million. We simply cannot plant our way out of carbon pollution. Fossil fuel has to be reduced dramatically. We have had climate disasters and it will not stop until we give up coal energy. It will not stop the decision-makers listen to the citizens saying enough of corporate greed.
Jean Lindo is a doctor, health and environment advocate; leading the Network Opposed to Coal Davao and Panalipdan Mindanao.