Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Hope of Mainstreaming Native Tree Species

Last week a two-day seminar on Mainstreaming Native Tree Species for Reforestation was held in NISMED in UP. It was attended by a mixed group of people, from plant and animal conservationists, design professionals, foresters, horticulturists, botanists, bird enthusiats, plant hobbyists to academicians and many more. I would say it was well attended by the who's who in the topic, the usual faces I see and hear about when we talk about forest conservation and biodiversity. For more details on what transpired and discussed within the seminar, visit

Regarding the seminar, I personally learned a lot from the people who shared their experiences in native tree reforestation, especially the accounts given by different forester groups and cooperatives. Inspiring were affirmations coming from local groups and NGO's. But my concern is that most of them discussed what little species they got to plant in their reforestation plots, and yet somehow some of the exotic staples still crept into their plant lists. I wonder if they know these are non natives or just passed off as indigenous trees. I never got the chance to inquire how these groups acquired their education and information regarding the claimed native species which they plant in their demo sites.

The clear culprit of the seminar was Swietenia macrophylla or mahogany, which was elevated to villain status in native tree conservation. The runner up was Gmelina arborea or yemane. But I am not sure if the lay-men participants are aware that the likes of Muntingia calabura (aratiles), Mangifera indica (mango), Lansium domesticatum (lanzones), Leucaena leucocephala (ipil-ipil), Sandoricum koetjape (santol), Nephelium lappaceum (rambutan is a Malaysian variety but lately a variant was discovered in Palawan) are exotic, not naturally found in Philippine landscapes but were historically introduced by man to the archipelago. A little light should be shed on this to truly have a ray of hope for native species reforestation.


Susan Aquino-Ong said...

Hi Patrick,
The better term is Forest Restoration, and there's quite a substantial amount of difference from Forest Reforestation. I was guilty of the same error till someone called my attention during the conference.
Restoration is trying to put the forest-site back into its original state using native species and the intricacies of research are no doubt numerous like one should have a sound scientific grasp of the ecological interplay of the specific sites in consideration of their history and with a good understanding of their present levels of degradation.
Reforestation on the other hand is planting, planting and most of all planting. An assessment by sectors in the biological and forest sciences claim, herein lies the weakness of over 30 years of funding allocation towards Philippine reforestation using mahoganii, knife cassias, gmelina, ipil-ipil and a whole lot of fast growing exotic species that could possibly wreck our chain of forest ecosystem for example, pest outbreak of the ipil-ipil in Mindanao and high occurrence of quick-to-break species of C.auriculiformis after a typical typhoon visits our city.
I hope you can publish your thesis soon for people to appreciate the many reasons why we should never lose hope to mainstream the utilization of our Philippine native tree species for landscaping our urban and natural forests. The right time is now.
Susan Aquino-Ong, PALA-IFLA

metscaper said...

Hi mam Susan. Thanks for the clarification.