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Great grass for ‘tree of life’ drive

Diocese aims to use bamboo to ward off landslides

Great grass for ‘tree of life’ drive
The bamboo nursery for the Baguio diocese
Maurice Malanes, Baguio City

May 23, 2011

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Former forester Joel Codnita, like many other Filipino retirees, would like to be caring for and bonding with his grandchildren. But his retirement was short-lived when Bishop Carlito Cenzon of Baguio recently sought him out for a special mission. The mission is for the 62-year-old to get at least 7,000 bamboo seedlings by July. “I couldn’t refuse the bishop and I understand the urgency of his request,” Codnita, a Catholic parishioner, said. So since April, Codnita has lost no time in propagating cuttings in a newly constructed 11-meter-by-20-meter black net-covered nursery in the spacious yard of the diocese-managed St. Francis Seminary in the northern city of Baguio. Recently, he revealed that he – with the help of an assistant and some seminarians, who are helping in their spare time – has managed to get 2,000 seedlings of several varieties at the nursery. They are being collected for the diocese’s “Tree of Life Campaign,” which, Bishop Cenzon says, is the diocese's response to helping prepare parishioners and their communities against disasters. Bishop Cenzon said he had visited communities battered by a super-typhoon in October 2009 and discovered that areas devoid of trees were devastated by landslides. The seedlings at the nursery are targeted for distribution to the diocese's 26 parishes during the rainy season next year. The nursery also serves as a training center for parishioners wanting to learn how to propagate bamboo seedlings. Codnita said the non-government Philippine Bamboo Foundation, has joined the diocese to help train parishioners not only in propagation, but also in taking care of existing bamboo plants. “Later on, the training will concentrate on bamboo furniture-making and culinary uses such as bamboo shoots,” said Codnita. Why bamboo? “Bamboo is a great, versatile grass with lots of ecological uses and is easy to propagate,” Bishop Cenzon said. Father Andres Cosalan, the diocese's vicar-general, said bamboo has many uses such as food, erosion control, housing, furniture, and reforestation, among others. Erlinda Tindo of the diocese's social action center said the tree of life project, which involves community participation and cooperation, could also be a way to help strengthen the faith and community spirit of Basic Ecclesial Communities. PL14265
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