The main activity for the day was to do the documentary shoot at the dipterocarp forest in Imugan. We met with the team of Foresters at the Kalahan Academy and they explained to us briefly where we are going. There were about a team of 8 foresters with us to cover everything we need. We’ll be tagging along with them as they work through the forest.
I’ll just give a brief background on how Forest Carbon Trading is done. Please bear with me as it could be technical but I’ll explain as simple as I can. Back in 1992 around 192 countries, including the Philippines got together and agreed upon preventing the deterioration of global air pollution. This pact is known as United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC. Then in 1997, a pact for 36 industrialized countries has been made to lessen air pollution coming from their nations. And to do this they treated Carbon as a product which could be sold and bought at the world market. This is known as the Kyoto Protocol.
To site an example, if a car company from one of the industrialized country has a record of emitting certain amount of carbon dioxide in the air, they can buy carbon stock from a country with excess supply to offset their pollution emission. A ton of Carbon is equal to 3.67 tons of Carbon Dioxide. And as of June 2009, a ton of carbon is worth US$18.
Another way to reach a country’s carbon target based on the Kyoto Protocol is to fund environmental and development projects of other countries like the Philippines who doesn’t need a carbon target since we don’t have a high emission of pollution to the atmosphere. This is known as Clean Development Mechanism.
Here in Imugan, Nueva Vizcaya, the ancestral domain of Ikalahan-Kalanguya, the carbon measurement method started in the country at its forest in 1994, two years after founding UNFCCC. At the height of 500-1500 meters above sea level, the Ikalahan domain has 14000 hectares along the the Caraballo Mountain ranges, varying from dipterocarp, pine forest and mossy or cloud forest types. Of the whole ancestral domain, 18% of the forest are protected, 70% are production forest and 12% are used for farming.
Carbon Measurments are done on 10,000 hectares of Production Forest. This is divided into Lots based on type of forest and density. A Lot has a “Sample Block” of 50×50 meters. In each lot, trees not less than 10 cm in circumference, measured at chest height of the person measuring the tree are included in the list. By means of measurement, they have a formula on calculating the biomass released by a tree in which 50% of it is carbon. They gather and collect these data so they can check their carbon stock and how effective their forest can absorb Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon Measurements of Lots are done every three years.
Going back on this expedition, we were headed on one of the lots in the nearby dipterocarp forest in Imugan. Our hike took 1 to 2 hours until we reached our first lot. The leader would have a list of the trees they have tagged 3 years ago. First order was to find these trees which are not always easy. Moss could have covered up those numbers so they have to clean up some of the trees.
Once cleaned, they do circumferential measurement of the trees to record how it has grown. Once updated, they re-mark the trees again. This time on a much effective means of carving and using a red paint on the number. This may sound simple as you think but imagine measuring 10,000 hectares on the mountain ranges. Even coming to this Lot only about 2 hours away already took some effort. We also visited another lot where there is no clear cut trail and the forest really dense and rich in plant and insect species.
One thing I like about dipterocarp forest is the many varieties of trees and plants you could see. While I may not be that familiar with the names, I saw from the list that there are more than 10 species of trees on a lot. One hard lesson I learned on joining their expedition is to be properly attired for the job. There are some steep slopes that they were measuring that my sandals traction could not handle the terrain. And good boots gives you protection from those large forest ant’s bite. An Itell you you don’t want to get bitten, it’s very painful.
We had a lunch break at one of their camps, my GPS reads it’s about 1150 meters above sea level. It was a great camp with an overlooking view of Maharlika highway, Dupax, Aritao, Kasibu and Bambang. They made a bonfire where we heat up our food. Canned corn beef, tuyo, rice and some herb plants they picked up along the way to add to the taste. It was a great lunch at the outdoors despite the drizzles. I had to admire these forester guys. Sometimes their carbon measurement would entail them to be in the forest for weeks on farther regions.
We did another stop on another lot do Carbon Measurements. It’s on the the forested peaks of Mt Tuplano, somewhere around 1200 meters above sea level. The mountain was popular then because of a rescue mission on a plane (not sure which airline) that crashed here in Nueva Vizcaya. The weather was howling at the top forest with rains coming in once in a while. Imagine me lugging in a camera and an umbrella on one hand navigating through steep forest trails. It wasn’t that easy I tell you but it was fun. But I had to be careful in the forest as they shoed me this innocent looking plant with large leaves called Lal-latury. But, underneath those leaves are micro needle stings that when stung and caught on the skin, it will be very painful for a week.
By mid afternoon, we were done with the measurements. We did 3 lots on different locations then headed back to town. It was exhausting but a learning experience as well. Once we were in town, we bought some snacks at a store then went back to the Imugan Falls to relax. Tomorrow we’ll be heading to the Pine Forest of Salacsac.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.