by Joellie Belle Badon and Gillian Jalosjos | April 19, 2022
Silliman University (SU) collaborated with the geothermal business Energy Development Corporation (EDC) in constructing an arboretum at Valencia, Negros Oriental last March 30.
Officials and members from SU and EDC planted 100 endangered native tree species.
The planting operations were directed by Norreen Bautista, head of the EDC-Negros business relations department, and Jane Annette Belarmino, SU vice president for Development.
Several faculty and students of SU participated in the event led by Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) Earl Jude Cleope, College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Dean Bridgitt Villordon, and chairperson of the Biology Department Prof. Nadia Abesamis — pursuing the vision for the SU Environmental Learning Resource Center.
The kick-off tree planting activity of the Silliman-BINHI project was with the cooperation of the EDC to develop an arboretum.
When asked why SU devotes itself to this kind of activity, Belarmino said: “When you refer to flora and fauna, it means the word endemic. We want to prioritize the collection of Philippine endangered endemic trees.”
The recently opened EDC-SU arboretum joins the 22 arboreta and 163 tree parks that have already been constructed and the over 200 BINHI partners.
The botanical collection, known as “BINHI”, is housed in the Christian institution’s field laboratory in Barangay Palinpinon, Valencia.
Banuyo (Wallaceodendron celebicum), ipil (Borneo teak), taba (Tristaniopsis littoralis), baguilombang (Reutalis trisperma), yakal (Shorea astylosa), and lisok-lisok were among the endangered Philippine tree species planted.
“Recognizing our calling to be stewards of creation, we at Silliman University are committed to the prevention of environmental pollution, the conservation and enhancement of our natural resources, and environmental sustainability,” said Belarmino in her speech, referring to SU’s Environmental Principles, during the tree planting event.
Belarmino also said that the University Environmental Learning Resource Center intends to house a multidisciplinary collection of environmentally relevant best practices, outputs, and academic and non-academic programs of the university anchored on conservation awareness and environmental sustainability.
“It is a designated area where these best practices are demonstrated as a benchmark for other academic constitutions in the context of implementing environmentally responsible and relevant instruction, research, and extension. The aspects of the learning resources may be represented by infrastructure, demonstration areas, and information materials as well as programs that are showcased in the Resource Center. Thus, the significance and relevance of the Arboretum project with EDC that strengthens our niche programs on biodiversity, biotechnology, and conservation biology for instruction, research, and extension,” she said.
She also mentioned that they wanted to practice impropriate green architecture in the buildings of SU. They observe green practices like proper segregation of waste and teach students about the proper disposal of waste in dormitories.
“I think it’s really very important for us to plant trees. That message has been there for the longest time. It’s also important that we choose the trees that we plant. We have to choose trees that are endemic to the Philippines because that would more or less also ensure their survival, rather than planting trees that are not native to the Philippines,” she added.
To motivate students to participate in activities like this, Belarmino stated that students are aware because we are now experiencing the impact of climate change. She thinks that students are very aware. They know that they are the future. As for motivation, she believes students want to do something about it.
“The role of the administration of Silliman is to provide avenues where they can participate in something that they are very passionate about. Nabantayan gyud nako karon generation [I noticed in this generation], they are so concerned of the environment. So, we just have to. They are just so educated. They know the importance of trees. They know how deforestation takes us. They know the importance of diversity,” she ended.
Belarmino also shared the SU-EDC BINHI Arboretum Site Development Plan, which was dated October 14, 2021, and showed the total area of the arboretum, 4,240 square meters.