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.