DAVAO CITY – With more and more corporate social responsibility initiatives focusing on tree planting activities, the Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS) is calling to prioritize the use of indigenous species of trees in reforestation projects.
“The use of indigenous trees takes into account that the local ecology is more conducive for native trees.”, said IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes. “If the goal of every reforestation activity is to recreate the forest ecosystem as close as possible to the original state of the forest, what better way to do this than by using native trees.”
Until recently, reforestation efforts in the Philippines were undertaken using exotic species like gmelina and falcatta because they were easy to germinate and fast growing.
But environmentalists contend that the use of exotic species leads to a negative impact on the local ecology because these are usually invasive and dominant over native species.
“For instance, gmelinas are voracious nutrient absorbers. They deplete the environment of water and other nutrients that other plants need.”, Fuertes pointed out. “This is why conventional reforestation efforts failed in the past. The use of exotic species failed to ensure forest biodiversity , leading to the failure of forest habitat restoration.”
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has also embraced this paradigm shift with the emphasis of its National Greening Program on planting indigenous trees. By partnering with CSOs like IDIS, the DENR ensures the establishment of nurseries which will nurture indigenous tree saplings to meet the project demand. Through the NGP , DENR hopes to plant 1.5 billion trees in around 1.5 million hectares of public land for six years, starting from 2011 to 2016.
In one such nursery established in Brgy Tawantawan, members of IDIS’s partner people organization, the Mt. Tipolog Bantay Kinaiyahan Association (MTBKA), care for various saplings of apitong, almaciga, lawaan and narra .These saplings will later be used as part of the rehabilitation efforts along the slopes of Mt. Tipolog.
“More important, is that the use of indigenous tree species allows us to protect the watershed ecosystem. Since these trees have already adapted to the local soil and climate and generally require less water and fertilizer, the water in the underground aquifers will remain healthy and sufficient for generations of Dabawenyos.”, Fuertes said. (#)