Did you know that in Victorias City where sugarcane is king, an enterprising lawyer-businessman has transformed a 40-hectare sugarcane plantation into a man-made forest? Most of the trees when we visited it in 2015 were full grown and some people were calling it a rainforest.
Responsible for converting the place into a forest park is lawyer Nordy Diploma , 85, who is not only a good legal practitioner but also a sharp businessman.
He learned from the history of Negros Occidental that the province used to be covered with thick forests which were cut to give way to sugarcane plantations. Commercial logging and pollution from the sugar centrals also contributed to the degradation of the environment.
CRAZY IDEA? – In 1997, lawyer Nordy bought 60 hectares of sugarcane plantation to pursue what some people in Negros called a crazy idea – converting a productive sugarcane farm into a forest from which no immediate income could be derived. Atty. Nordy had the last laugh. He had developed a beautiful forest park with a lot of money-making possibilities.
SOLD TRIMMINGS – During our visit he made money by selling the trimmings from his trees to the sugar centrals. They used the trimmings as fuel. Selective harvesting of the trees will make it possible to sustain the forest forever. A furniture maker had broached to Atty. Nordy the possibility of putting up a furniture factory in the vicinity of the park so he can make furniture for export from the man-made forest. It makes sense because the furniture buyers from Europe and elsewhere would not accept furniture made of wood cut from the mountains.
ACACIA – There were even bigger plans for the forest park. More areas were scheduled to be developed into agroforestry. One lot was being planted to acacia as it has been observed that acacia grows very fast. The wood could eventually be harvested for making furniture and handicraft items.
NATURE TRAILS – Future plans also include the development of nature trails that will enable the visitors to the park to experience for themselves the wonders of a healthy eco-system.
One other vision was to make the forest park as venue for leadership development and skills training. Atty. Diploma said that youth camps will provide a forum for leadership and skills training to produce the leaders of tomorrow from the youth of today.
RESEARCH CENTER – Also, the Nordson Forest Park can become an experiment station to find out which species will grow best in the Visayas. The forest park is an ideal venue for field-testing different tree and plant species, growing techniques, and watershed rehabilitation with the help of various agencies that include UP Los Baños and the World Agroforestry Center.
SCIENCE HIGH SCHOOL – Atty. Diploma was most proud of the National Negros Occidental Science High School which is found right inside the forest park. He donated three hectares to the provincial government where it built the only public science high school in northern Negros. The school has since become one of the country’s leading science high schools. A total of 279 students who are mostly scholars of their municipal governments were enrolled from Grade 7 to 10 during our visit.
The students have garnered a lot of awards in various science competitions in the Philippines and abroad. A major award was won by Ayezza Myrisse V. Candelario, a grade 8 student. She won the gold medal in the 2015 World Mathematics International Finals held in China.
Aside from donating the three-hectare site of the science high school, Atty. Diploma provides a P1,000.00 monthly stipend to each of the teachers to augment their salary from the government.