We believe that to make true change, we must use a holistic approach to reforestation. That is why we have partnered up with the Indigenous People 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 Security Cycle (FFSC) program, followed by our Sustainable Disposable Income Crop (SDIC) program, and finally, our reforestation program. Throughout the entire process, the Hineleban Foundation and our partner Indigenous communities work together on the following:
FFSC aims to help partner communities achieve non-cash-dependent food security for each family member. The crops in the FFSC are root crops such as gabi, taro, camote, cassava, banana, white beans, corn/adlai, and vegetables.
Families play a critical role in achieving non-cash-dependent food security by planting available crops in their community. This approach is vital because it promotes self-sufficiency, resilience, and a sustainable food system. Families producing crops well-suited to their local environment and cultural practices can ensure a diverse and nutritious diet for each family member, reducing their dependence on cash purchases for food. By cultivating readily available crops in the community, families can tap into local knowledge and traditional farming techniques, preserving cultural heritage and promoting intergenerational learning. It strengthens community bonds and enhances collective resilience and adaptability to environmental changes. Additionally, planting community-specific crops contributes to the conservation of local agrobiodiversity, preserving valuable plant varieties that may be better adapted to local conditions, resistant to pests and diseases, and capable of thriving in challenging environments.
This approach to non-cash-dependent food security can solve hunger by addressing several key challenges. Firstly, it reduces reliance on expensive market-purchased foods, which may need to be more affordable for marginalized communities. Families can overcome barriers to access and ensure a consistent supply of nutritious meals by producing their food. Secondly, community-based crop cultivation promotes local food sovereignty, empowering families to control their food production and break free from dependency on external sources. This leads to greater food security as communities become less vulnerable to disruptions in the global food system. Finally, by focusing on crops already available in the community, the approach harnesses local resources and knowledge, making it a sustainable and cost-effective solution to hunger in the long run.
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.
After decades of logging, cogon grass (Imperata Cyclindrica) has taken over the Philippine landscape. Its 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 Indigenous People (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), will form a solid canopy that 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 create 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 is that 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, 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 are both excellent construction materials 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 revitalized 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.