The Philippines was once covered by primary forests, which made up 78% of the land. Due to decades of unsustainable and irresponsible logging practices, that number has dropped drastically to less than 2%. These practices have nearly eviscerated the generous watersheds that provided the perfect conditions for farming in Mindanao, which is considered the food basket of the Philippines. The island has been experiencing lengthening droughts and, with them, more food-related humanitarian crises in recent years.
The lack of water is a critical problem that we believe can be fixed with the restoration of our rain cycles. Bukidnon is host to four mountain ranges with some of the last primary forests left in the Philippines. The neighboring province, Lanao, contains the headwaters of rivers that could be considered the veins of Mindanao. The rain cycles that these mountain ranges and headwaters provide must be restored and protected to ensure the island’s capacity to grow food and sustain life. Achieving this goal could lead to food security not only for Mindanao but for the entire nation.
Some of the most impacted communities are located in the areas we aim to reforest. These communities are made up of the first inhabitants of Mindanao—the Indigenous People. Hineleban Foundation recognizes and respects their native title rights, customs, beliefs, political structure, and way of life. We believe that to truly protect and reforest our mountain ranges, we must work in partnership with these communities, supporting each other as we forge on. We need your support, too, to realize our goals and create a model that we hope can serve as an example of food and human security as well as successful reforestation.