The Race is on to Salvage a “Golden Trough” of Typhoon Felled Trees across the Central Philippines
The race is on to salvage valuable wood from millions of typhoon felled coconut trees in the central Philippines. Experts believe that salvaged coco lumber could be used for urgently needed temporary shelters, as the Yolanda (Haiyan) super storm left four million people displaced, just over two months ago in the Visayas region. It also killed thousands and devastated livelihoods across nine of the Philippines’ poorest provinces. If stored correctly, the lumber could also prove a potent way of securing thousands of livelihoods. But, time is running out as the trees need to be recovered before May 2014, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Typhoon Yolanda, with its 300 kilometer winds, felled or damaged more than 32 million coconut trees, says Yuri Afanasiev, the UNDP Senior Recovery Coordinator in the Philippines. UNDP and its partners understand the immediate benefit of using these trees to meet critical shelter needs, Mr Afanasiev says. But, the trees are also potentially “a golden trough of materials that an emerging group of small wood processing business can use to secure the livelihoods of thousands of families over the next five years,” he says.
Downed coconut trees have only a six-month lifespan before rot and insects set in, which means the trunks must be recovered by May 2014 at the latest, says Mr. Afanasiev. “The challenges now is working out how to firstly get the lumber out of the plantations and then properly treat and store it so that new businesses can use it over the coming years to produce marketable products, like utensils, furnishings and furniture, for example,” he says.