Gov't urged to use indigenous trees in reforestation

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/09 December) – Government reforestation programs should stop using exotic tree species as these have gradually displaced indigenous tree species as well as the indigenous peoples, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Tuesday said.

Felix S. Mirasol Jr., DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer for Malaybalay, said the government’s bias for exotic tree species has threatened the survival of Mindanao’s remaining rainforests.

Mirasol, also the protected area superintendent of Mount Kitanglad Range and Natural Park said that exotic tree species cater to the demand of commercial tree plantations.

But people, he said, still look for lumber from native species such as lauan and other hard wood to build bridges and other structures that are meant to last long.

These trees could only be found in the decreasing rainforest cover of Mindanao, he added.

Mirasol said that promoting the use of native tree species [in reforestation projects] is expected to discourage cutting of trees in the natural forests.

He said there was some sort of a colonial mentality as to the choice of exotic species aside from the widespread perception that they are cheaper and grow faster.

But he pointed out that there are native species that could compete with the growth rate of exotic species such as ulayan, bitaog, bitanghol, and hanagdong.

Mirasol was a participant to the Mindanao Rainforest Restoration Forum Tuesday at the Bukidnon State University Media Resource Center, which gathered participants from the government and non-government sectors, including 30 of the 32 protected area superintendents in Mindanao.

The forum focused on the need to use the native species of trees like lauan, dalaguingan, lambilohan, and kalingag for the government’s efforts in reforestation as against the use of exotic one’s like gmelina.

Mirasol said the native species may grow a little slower but produce harder wood are ideal for forest conservation.

But he said that one drawback is the lack of seedlings. He said one of the agenda in the forum is to draw suggestions on how produce enough seedlings of indigenous tree species.

Mirasol said the Bukidnon Regreening Program of Gov. Alex Calingasan now uses these indigenous species in its reforestation projects with seedlings provided by the Imbayao Tribal Women’s Association. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)