A show of unity for the environment


TVIRD’s IP hosts, employees plant trees together on World Environment Day

As the world celebrated the World Environment Day (WED) recently, indigenous hosts and employees of a mining firm operating in the remote mountains of Zamboanga Peninsula in Southern Philippines dirtied their hands and planted trees together in a touching show of community-company solidarity for the preservation and protection of Mother Earth.

Subanon elders wait for their turn to plant trees.

The activity, which saw the planting of 1,000 acacia mangium trees near the open pit site of TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc.’s (TVIRD) Canatuan Project, has increased the number of trees planted by the Company in and around its gold-silver facility to more than 100,000 – more trees than were found in the Subanon ancestral domain when TVIRD began operations in mid-2004.

The forest savers of Canatuan in action.

TVIRD employees and their Subanon community partners rappel down a slope to plant trees.

Dubbed “Saving the Rainforest..Saving the Seas and Oceans”, the tree-planting activity was TVIRD’s response to this year’s WED theme, “Seas and Oceans: Dead or Alive?” Organizers pointed out that the protection of rainforests will also save the planet’s bodies of water, owing to the interconnection of the ecosystem.

The participants began the activity with a walk from the Company’s mill facility to the waste dump site, where able-bodied participants rappelled down the slope to plant seedlings grown from the Company tree nursery.

Subanon Council of Elders presiding officer Celestino Guinagag, a former employee of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Siocon town, was pleased with what he saw: “I am thankful that TVIRD is concerned about the environment. As a former forester, I am glad that activities like this are being conducted by the company.”

Canatuan Project employees and ancestral domain owners pose at the Mill before their march to save a rainforest.

Daniel Dorado, a Subanon TVIRD scholar, was equally elated: “I am happy that the Company came up with this activity, which involved employees and us Subanons. I thank TVIRD in behalf of the Subanon youths since we will be the ones who will benefit from what we have planted here today.”

Before TVIRD came to operate in Canatuan, the area was already denuded due to the traditional slash-and-burn agriculture of older generations of Subanons, as well as to illegal logging and small-scale mining that also left the rivers and waterways highly contaminated with toxic wastes like mercury and cyanide. In 2003 and 2004, the company conducted a massive yearlong environmental cleanup. Apart from reforestation, which form a major component of TVIRD’s Reclamation and Rehabilitation Programs, TVIRD’s environmental management and protection initiatives include Tailings Management, Soil Loss and Erosion Management, as well as Water Quality Monitoring. Since it began producing gold and silver in mid-2004, Siocon’s waterways have been free from chemical contamination.

The WED tree-planting activity was organized by TVIRD’s Community Relations and Development Office (CReDO), in cooperation with the Environment and Civil Works Group of the Canatuan Project.

TVIRD’s Subanon scholars spent part of their summer vacation planting trees: “We will be the ones who will benefit from what we have planted here.”

Young TVIRD employees after a job well done. They willingly contribute their time for the environment and for future generations of Subanons.

Never too late to plant a tree for this elderly Subanon.

TVIRD Canatuan GM Magi Bagayao (extreme left) and fellow employees pause at the slope after a back-breaking tree planting activity below the mine pit. Miners love forests, too.

The Tree Lovers Class of 2007.