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05 April 2016

Plant your tree and see it from anywhere in the globe?

A unique and lasting experience for participants of the upcoming Philippine-hosting of the 5th ASEAN Plus Three Junior Science Odyssey in June is afoot as they are set to embark on a one-of-a-kind tree planting activity. 

Aside from the laboratory skills competition, poster presentations and project pitching that will all test students from the 10 ASEAN member-states as well as representatives from China, Sweden, Taiwan and Korea, the participants will be planting and monitoring trees in Mount Makiling through the Individual Tangible Response to Ecosystem Enhancement Program or iTREE.

Organized by the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems’ (MCME), iTREE is an offshoot of MCME’s Habitat Care program, which is a tree planting and nurturing activity on forest rehabilitation and restoration initiative.

It utilizes modern technologies such as geographic information system, the Internet, information and mapping technologies to allow for personal monitoring of the planted seedlings online.

“It encourages interested parties to visit the iTREE planting areas and plant trees for the world to see,” said Dr. Nathaniel Bantayan, MCME Director and an iTREE planter himself.

For the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)—partners in the hosting of the event—this feature of the APTJSO will make the event “more than just a competition” for the participants.

“We’ve been part of the APTJSO for four years and I can say this activity makes our hosting modernly unique with this iTREE feature,” said Science Education Institute Director, Dr. Josette Biyo.

DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said the activity will make lasting impression of the country’s hosting among the international delegates.

“Aside from retaining our Championship, we want to make a greater and lasting impact in this hosting,” said Guevara. “We want them to see how serious we are in celebrating the role of the rainforest in mitigating climate change and in instilling the value of conservation, preservation and sustainability among the youth, not just in the Philippines but in the whole of ASEAN.”

The Philippines will host for the first time this year’s APTJSO on 13-17 June 2016 at UPLB and shall banner the theme “Climate Change and the Rainforest”. It will be participated in by around 84 students and 28 teachers. Two campuses from the Philippine Science High School System will represent the national team and try to defend its four-year best finishes in the biology, chemistry and physics laboratory skills competition.

The tree planting activity will cap off the weeklong event along with a community visit by the delegates in various scientific institutions in Los Baños.

“We are confident that the international delegates will get to see the Filipino commitment in fighting climate change throughout this event,” Guevara said. (30)