May 29, 2024
Conservation efforts of Swallow Falls State Park as the oldest stand of hemlock and white pine in Maryland, U.S.A.

I was asked recently why Mount Sto. Tomas in Tuba, Benguet has not been opened yet and my simple answer was because the residents have not seen the value of conserving the forest reserve for its purpose as the headwaters of Bued River and the other rivers that flow in Benguet and to the provinces of Pangasinan and La Union.
This is the underlying need that must be planned and presented to the Department of Environment and Natural Resourceswhose mandate and neglect have been ascertained by the Permanent Environmental Protection Order (PEPO) in 2015 under the Writ of Kalikasan.
My visit to the Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland in 2017 reminds me of how this last stand of forest must be treated and respected because we need the water that charges water stations and domestic pipes in many barangays of the city, as well as the lowlands.
Compared to America that protects sensitive areas of flora, we are trapped by survival. The signage at the entrance states the park is preserving the oldest stand of hemlock and white pine while MSTFR states that it is covered by a presidential decree in 1940. Which reflects our disregard for the law and their regard for keeping what they hold precious.

Signages warn of dangerous parts of the walk.

The trodden trails are there as guides and reminders to stay on track. There are maps in different strategic sites to state where you are and what is beyond. The riverbend was one of the routes we wanted to take because the landscapes carved by nature were visual wonders.
The crystal-clear waters told of the absence of destructive human activities and only of nature’s careless splashes and drifts of trunks and twigs on the sides.
The walkways were installed with safety rails where humans might slip or fall. We sat on a ledge to view the distance already covered and hardly met other visitors along the way. But neither did we see candy wrappers or empty plastic water bottles along the way.
Everything in the forest would eventually rot and enrich the soil for new growth and not poison or affect the living things within the area.
The trees were tall that formed a canopy over the pathways. This was the end of summer, and it was still warm under the trees, and we were glad that the sun’s rays were filtered by the pine needles and leaves above us.

Nature cleared paths that are evidence to the number of visitors each year.

This would be ideal for Mt. Sto. Tomas to have a canopy above the eco-trails that could be planned to soften the anthropogenic impact on a forest.
Like Swallow Falls State Park, a series of trails to view the city, or go bird watching are possible if this is planned and maintained. This could be the livelihood that would match the need for water and offer healthy tourist activities for the able. Trails could be made by man’s constant pace around the mountain, which would hardly bother the supply of underground water and the charging of water tables.
Signages could direct the unguided visitors to the areas in the vicinity. Thematic botanical growth could also be encouraged for more photo perfect sites.
A favorite of pre-nuptial photographs, colorful arrangements of bushes and endemic plants could be set in parts of the mountain. These will need full time gardeners to maintain the ornamental vegetation. There would be work for the residents and sources of income.
Conservation is still a viable financial venture like all parks and destinations in the world. But this must also preserve the most important survival element in life, water. I was asked recently why Mount Sto. Tomas in Tuba, Benguet has not been opened yet and my simple answer was because the residents have not seen the value of conserving the forest reserve for its purpose as the headwaters of Bued River and the other rivers that flow in Benguet and to the provinces of Pangasinan and La Union.

Mighty trees cover the trails that serve as canopy against the warm end of summer.

This is the underlying need that must be planned and presented to the Department of Environment and Natural Resourceswhose mandate and neglect have been ascertained by the Permanent Environmental Protection Order (PEPO) in 2015 under the Writ of Kalikasan.
My visit to the Swallow Falls State Park in Maryland in 2017 reminds me of how this last stand of forest must be treated and respected because we need the water that charges water stations and domestic pipes in many barangays of the city, as well as the lowlands.
Compared to America that protects sensitive areas of flora, we are trapped by survival. The signage at the entrance states the park is preserving the oldest stand of hemlock and white pine while MSTFR states that it is covered by a presidential decree in 1940. Which reflects our disregard for the law and their regard for keeping what they hold precious.
The trodden trails are there as guides and reminders to stay on track. There are maps in different strategic sites to state where you are and what is beyond. The riverbend was one of the routes we wanted to take because the landscapes carved by nature were visual wonders.

The riverbed shows clear water and a collection of twigs and leaves drifted to the side by the water current.

The crystal-clear waters told of the absence of destructive human activities and only of nature’s careless splashes and drifts of trunks and twigs on the sides.
The walkways were installed with safety rails where humans might slip or fall. We sat on a ledge to view the distance already covered and hardly met other visitors along the way. But neither did we see candy wrappers or empty plastic water bottles along the way.
Everything in the forest would eventually rot and enrich the soil for new growth and not poison or affect the living things within the area.
The trees were tall that formed a canopy over the pathways. This was the end of summer, and it was still warm under the trees, and we were glad that the sun’s rays were filtered by the pine needles and leaves above us.
This would be ideal for Mt. Sto. Tomas to have a canopy above the eco-trails that could be planned to soften the anthropogenic impact on a forest.

Dwarfed by the trees in different states of growth and of being felled for safety.

Like Swallow Falls State Park, a series of trails to view the city, or go bird watching are possible if this is planned and maintained. This could be the livelihood that would match the need for water and offer healthy tourist activities for the able. Trails could be made by man’s constant pace around the mountain, which would hardly bother the supply of underground water and the charging of water tables.
Signages could direct the unguided visitors to the areas in the vicinity. Thematic botanical growth could also be encouraged for more photo perfect sites.
A favorite of pre-nuptial photographs, colorful arrangements of bushes and endemic plants could be set in parts of the mountain. These will need full time gardeners to maintain the ornamental vegetation. There would be work for the residents and sources of income.
Conservation is still a viable financial venture like all parks and destinations in the world. But this must also preserve the most important survival element in life, water.