Sanchez: Waste not, segregate

WHAT Costa Rica has to teach Bacoleños in waste segregation? Plenty, I should say. How about helping secondary forest grow?

In the mid-1990s, 1,000 truckloads of orange peels and orange pulp were purposefully unloaded onto a barren pasture in a Costa Rican national park.

Now, that area is covered in lush, vine-laden forest. Princeton University researchers surveyed the land 16 years after the orange peels were deposited and – get this – found a 176 percent increase in wood in the trees within the three-hectare area studied!

The research found the unique power of agricultural waste to not only regenerate a forest but also to sequester a significant amount of carbon at no cost.

The research paper, “Low-Cost Agricultural Waste Accelerates Tropical Forest Regeneration,” was published July 28, 2017 in Restoration Ecology.
There were dramatic differences between the areas covered in orange peels and those that were not. The area fertilized by orange waste had richer soil, more tree biomass, greater tree-species richness and greater forest canopy closure.

Supposedly, the City of Smiles should have started its “no segregation, no collection” this month. Biodegradables are supposed to be separated from PET bottles, plastics, and other non-biodegradables.

Yet only a few villages have started to segregate their garbage. The reason? Lack of information dissemination in the villages, admitted Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran.

According to Familiaran, 90 percent of wastes coming from the public markets are biodegradable. I’m surprised that he failed to include as ecological waste management stakeholders the organic producers.

Can the Costa Rican orange peels experience translate to Metro Bacolod’s vegetable and fish wastes in the public markets that can induce the growth of the Bago watershed, the source of the city’s surface fresh water?

In this era of climate change, can the information drive include the role of organic waste and follow the Costa Rican example? Dump the biodegradables in a selected area and let it stay untouched for 10 years to allow Mother Nature to weave its magic in regeneration?

To those familiar with organic agriculture, the process doesn’t even qualify as a rocket science. Microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and insects such as mites, centipedes, sow bugs, snails, millipedes, spiders, account for most of the decomposition that takes place in a pile.

So there. The Bacolod LGU can incorporate these concerns for arresting climate change.

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)