Multi-functional role of forests

CENTRAL Philippines State University (CPSU) placed 5th among 17 participating schools in the 13th National Forestry Olympiad which was held recently at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños.

Representing CPSU in the event include fourth year students who are taking up Bachelor of Science in Forestry at the main campus – Kimberly Lacson, Michael Antinero, Reynaldo Tababa Jr. With them is their coach Dominic L. Billen.

The participants competed in surveying, mensuration, taxonomy, identification of tree diseases, seed identification, and wood identification, and a quiz on forestry and the environment.

The National Forestry Olympiad is a biennial event held at the UPLB College of Forestry and Natural Resources in Los Baños, Laguna.

This year’s theme is “Conservation of Forests for Sustainable Ecosystem Services.”

It was learned that the National Forestry Olympiad was launched in 1994 where

it was first conceptualized during the 1980s when UP-Los Baños’ UP Zeta Beta Rho Honor Fraternity and the UP Mussaenda Honor Sorority considered expanding the Future Forester’s Day held annually by the UPLB College of Forestry.

Citing the importance of forests to mankind, even the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently marked the “International Day of Forests” by announcing two new forestry education initiatives aimed at raising awareness among children and young people on the sustainable use and conservation of forests.

As we all probably know, education is a critical step to safeguard natural resources for future generations, and it is essential for children to learn about forests at an early age.

“Forests help to keep air, soil, water and people healthy. And they play a vital role in addressing some of the greatest challenges we face such as tackling climate change and ending hunger,” FAO says.

Yet, warns FAO, despite these widely documented benefits, the integrity and sustainability of the world’s forests are threatened by the cumulative effects of deforestation, land degradation, and competition for alternative land uses.

At the same time, a growing number of people need access to greater amounts of nutritious food.

Perhaps, the biggest challenge is that there is a lack of understanding of the many ways in which forests give back to global society, compounded by a growing disconnect, particularly in urban areas, between people and nature.

FAO stressed that this issue needs to be challenged and reversed, and that it can be done through education.

However, education about forests is often inadequate and is not able to address emerging challenges.

It can be noted that fewer young people study forestry at university or college, and even fewer primary and secondary schools include forest education in their changing curriculum.

But when forest education is offered, it often fails to take into account the forests’ multi-functional role.

This is the reason why FAO and partners are working to raise awareness about issues threatening our forests and strive to support the creation of comprehensive forestry education programs and rural vocational schools that can skill professionals to deal with the complex challenges and opportunities that the forest sector will continue to face. ([email protected]/PN)

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