Bantay Lasang, Mr. Mr. Clarito Laguna, discussing the profile of the area to the project implementers and stakeholders, during the first site assessment on April 6, 2022

To demonstrate the reforestation technology developed by a startup company, the Department of Science and Technology, in partnership with the Local Government Unit of Pangantucan, will conduct the first drone-assisted replanting effort in the mountain ranges of Mt. Kalatungan in Pangantucan, Bukidnon. Mt. Kalatungan’s peak is the fifth highest in the country, with a height of 2,287 meters above sea level (masl). The mountain range is also a key biodiversity area.

Through the technology of Galansiyang, Inc., a startup based in Iligan City, dispersing seeds and fertilizer applications through drones will be implemented. Likewise, the monitoring of the seed growth and land cover improvement is via aerial and satellite images. This advanced forest restoration initiative was designed to address the difficulty in terms of remoteness and terrain of the identified four-hectare area — a steep, strenuous two-kilometer walk from the communities within Mt. Kalatungan, and nearing the upper catchment of the Muleta River, which plays an important role in mitigating flood risks.

This project is aimed to train 370 participants in seed ball production –coating the seeds with soil and organic manure. Majority of the participants are from the Pangantucan Bukidnon Community College, where 300 students were encouraged to take part in this collaboration in order to increase awareness and engagement  in environmental  conservation. Other participants are from DOST, Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) – Kalatungan, LGU, and members of the IP communities nearby. The dispersing of the 12,000 seed balls and organic fertilizers will be done through a drone engineered by Galansiyang.

Among the seeds that will be dispersed are Balansihan, Talingtingan, Bagalug, and Ulayan – all endemic tree species referred and approved by the PAMB-Mt. Kalatungan. Seeds will be bought from the IP communities in the area who regularly conduct seed collection straight from the source in the mountain.

For sustainability, Galansiyang Inc. will also be monitoring the seeds’ germination for five years.

Aside from reforestation, DOST also aims that the project can contribute to preserving wildlife. Reforestation may restore several habitats and save lives. Currently, Mt. Kalatungan is home to at least 129 animal species and 342 plant species.Many endangered or vulnerable species are also in the mountain range, such as the Philippine eagle, Philippine hawk eagle, and Philippine deer.Endemic tree species that dominate the area are the katmon, white lauan, red lauan, bagtikan, and bikal-boboi, as well as the threatened almasiga.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR) through PAMB – Kalatungan and the IP communities in the area have expressed their full support to the project.

This project was funded through the Community Empowerment through Science and Technology (CEST) program, implemented by DOST Bukidnon. (Jenifer O. Pancho / DOST-Bukidnon)