Tan Holdings has carried on its tree planting initiative for the year in celebration of its 40th anniversary in the region, with company managers, directors, and other executives planting 150 flame tree saplings on a public land in Koblerville last Thursday.
This brings to 250 the total number of flame tree saplings that were planted since the project was jumpstarted in March, inching closer to the 400 goal set by the islands' largest employer which has consistently demonstrated its commitment to the environment.
About 40 company officials led by Tan Holdings corporate consultant David M. Sablan and vice president for Finance Lina Dimaano gathered at the expansive Commonwealth Ports Authority-owned land next to Coral Ocean Point, where the saplings were planted amid gray skies.
“I am pleased to say that ultimately, by the end of this year, we will have a total of 400 trees that would have been planted. It's something that we can look behind and say, we did something for the community,” Sablan addressed the crowd.
Sporting a “Going Green” shirt, each Tan Holdings executive planted two or three saplings provided by the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance, the non-profit organization partnering with Tan Holdings in its environmental initiatives.
Six “rangers” or volunteers from MINA's Tasi Watch program provided help by digging the holes where the saplings were planted. Fertilizers as well as used painted tires surrounded the saplings for care and protection.
Before the planting activity commenced, state forester Vic Guerrero Jr. gave a brief history of how flame tree became CNMI's state tree as well as informed his audience about its good and bad attributes
According to Guerrero, it was the first Legislature back in 1979 when the non-CNMI native flame tree was accepted as an established species in the islands. Since it belongs to the legume family, a flame tree's leaves, flowers, and seed box are edible.
He described flame trees as adaptable, shallow-rooted, and produces “very nice” flowers.
“A lot of people say, 'I'm not an agriculturist but when I see flame trees blooming, it touches my heart,” Guerrero said. “I guess it does with everybody else.”
But Guerrero noted that flame trees have “very poor” ability to compartmentalize decay. “It has very poor healing process so that most of the time when it gets injured, it's injured for life.”
MINA executive director Sam Sablan said in an interview that they are optimistic that the newly planted saplings will have between 90 and 95 percent survival rate, given that they were planted in a low populated area unlike Kilili Beach, the venue for the first batch of flame trees that Tan Holdings planted.
Sablan said they are looking at replacing some of the flame trees which were planted in Kilili Beach but did not survive and will continue the partnership with Tan Holdings to maintain the flame trees. Guerrero, for his part, said that they plan to do by next year a “thinning process” which involves removing excess trees which grow without proper in-between spacing.
Sablan disclosed that for the last 150 flame tree saplings that would be planted to meet the 400-tree goal, Tan Holdings eyes Hopwood Jr. High School as venue and looks forward to involving the school students.
During the event, Tan Holdings' Dimaano also presented a $750 donation to MINA, which corresponds to a $5 donation for every tree provided by the environmental group to the company. With 400 trees to be planted, MINA will receive a total of $2,000 donation from Tan Holdings.
Sablan expressed her appreciation to Tan Holdings, particularly to president Jerry Tan and Dimaano saying that the welcome donation will be used to support their operations, particularly volunteer needs.
“Although we do have federal funds, they're very restricted. It doesn't allow us to really support the volunteer program. This would essentially be used for those things. MINA is very grateful for the support that Jerry Tan, Lina Dimaano, and the entire Tan Holdings executives to really support our cause,” she said.