Angel B. Dukha III

Trees bring a lot of benefits to people, moreso fruit bearing trees. Senior program officer
Eric Buduan of Forest Foundation Philippines, a non-profit organization who promotes
preservation of the forests, discussed the agroforestry as a sustainable way to farm
while also preserving our forests.

Fruit bearing trees like palosapis (Shorea palosapis) and balobo (Diplodiscus paniculatus) bear nut-like fruits which can be processed into food. Katmon (Dillenia philippinensis) bears beautiful flowers, and its fruit can be processed into jam or mixed into sinigang. Other fruit-bearing trees that he shared included antipolo (Artocarpus blancoi) and fig, locally called balete (Ficus benjamina).

Lipote (Syzygium polycephaloides) and lubeg (Syzygium lineatum) trees bear fruits which can be fermented into wine for domestic sales or export, as organic wine has a high demand in other countries. Meanwhile, ardisia’s fruit can be made into a juice similar to the internationally in demand acai berry, which is rich in antioxidants.

Aside from these benefits, trees also contributes to different industries. Even though the
cutting of almaciga (Agathis philippinensis) tree is prohibited, utilization of its resin, or
Manila copal, can be harvested and manufactured into varnish, soap, printing ink, and
more.

“We are supporting (the) scientific tapping (of almaciga). We teach indigenous people
the proper way of tapping the tree so the wood will not be infested by termites,” he
explained.

Trees like layok, which is related to balete, and talisay (Terminalia catappa) also provide
natural dye. Furthermore, bakauan (Rhizophora mucronata) or mangrove bark is not
only used for natural dye, but also for making tuba or lambanog. Buduan shared that the
illegal collection of mangrove bark is a problem for conservation groups in Palawan.

Buduan is also optimistic about the possible future of mining in the country. Phytomining, or gathering accumulated metal concentrations from plants in metallic soil, utilizes metallophyte crops, or plants which thrive in metallic soil. Through the process, the soil is not damaged because metallic minerals will be harvested from the plant itself.

“We are looking into making a forest in the urban areas. Let us plant trees so we will
have more forests. We recognize that we cannot do it alone so we need advocates,
especially millennials,” he encouraged.

Turning rejected wood to income

Marsse Tropical Timber Plantations’ Marco Sebastian discussed value adding products
from wood and the challenges of owning a tree farm.

Growing trees for business can be challenging as they take a long time to mature and
even harder to figure out where to get income while trees are still growing.

“We had to be creative. We increased the area which are too populated (so) we thought
about thinning the plantation to promote growth in already bigger trees, but what do we do with the cleared trees?” Sebastian said.

Using wood from removed smaller trees for firewood or charcoal is wasteful. They are
still useful and can be converted to products for income. Wood can be turned to house
furniture and daily items like candle holders, coasters, and serving boards.

“We believe wood is wood, all we need to know is how or what the use of it is,” he said.

The Sustainable Tree Farmers Group of the Philippines were speakers at the 26th AgriLink International Agribusiness Exhibition and Seminars held in World Trade Center Pasay City.