SU, EDC plants first 100 endangered PH tree species in arboretum
Silliman University (SU) and the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) planted the first 100 seedlings of endangered native tree species in the SU-EDC BINHI Arboretum, March 30, 2022 in Palinpinon, Valencia, Negros Oriental.
The Arboretum, located inside the Palinpinon expansion site of the SU Center for Tropical Conservation Studies (CENTROP), was established through a partnership between SU and EDC to provide a safe haven for the long-term survival of endangered trees.
The Arboretum will house collections of endangered tree species in the Philippines which will be grown and preserved for scientific and educational purposes.
Prof. Jane Annette Belarmino, SU Vice President for Development, Enterprises, and External Affairs, said the arboretum helps strengthen SU’s instruction, research, and extension programs, specifically on conservation biology.
“Because of shared vision and goals, SU very much appreciates EDC’s collaboration and expertise…in developing the area for an arboretum of endangered and premium endemic Philippine trees,” said Belarmino.
Norreen G. Bautista, EDC Corporate Social Responsibility head for Negros, said the kickoff tree-planting activity is part of the International Day of Forests celebration observed every March 21.
“I ask us to take a serious look at the way we value forests, not just a source of raw materials but a means of absorbing carbon and helping sustain life on this planet,” said Bautista.
Planting native trees
The seedlings planted during the kickoff tree-planting activity belong to 25 endangered tree species that are endemic or native to the Philippines, including mangkono, supa, almon, tangile, bagauak-morado, anang, among others.
Bautista said the planted seedlings are “premium species.” The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) defines premium tree species as species whose wood has special characteristics, such as strength, durability, beauty, scarcity, and rarity, or is used for special purpose.
Ariel dela Cruz, EDC watershed management officer, said the planted seedlings are of species that are commonly found in Dipterocarp forests, which are forests dominated by Dipterocarp species.
Reforestation wherein only native tree species in the Philippines, such as Dipterocarp species, are planted is a concept defined by DENR as “rainforestation.” The aim of rainforestation is to “preserve biodiversity and expand Philippine forests and simultaneously sustain human food production.”
Dela Cruz said EDC provided the seedlings, which were grown from EDC’s Vegetative Material Reproduction (VMR) nursery for 6 to 8 months.
Each seedling has a tag with information about the species and where planters can write their name. Some tags also have a QR code that, when scanned, will lead to a page on the BINHI website with information about the species including where it has been planted.
In future tree-planting activities in the Arboretum, Dela Cruz said EDC plans to enable planters to track the status of their planted seedlings through the BINHI Communitree, an online platform and database of trees planted by EDC and its partner organizations.
The Arboretum was formally established through a Memorandum of Agreement signed by SU and EDC last October 9, 2020. The SU-EDC partnership for the Arboretum is part of EDC’s BINHI program, a nationwide forest restoration program.
For the Arboretum, EDC will provide SU with native tree seedlings from its priority species under BINHI, as well as technical assistance in monitoring and maintaining the tree species.
Geliah Taboco, president of the EDC Negros Union of professional/technical employees (PESSA-APSOTEU), said the Union is one of the EDC’s partners in the maintenance of the Arboretum.
Taboco said that Botanic Gardens Conservation International, an international network of botanic gardens, has also provided financial support for the Arboretum’s maintenance.
SU uses the 19-hectare CENTROP site in Palinpinon, Valencia as a field laboratory and for the expansion and relocation of endemic wildlife fauna managed by CENTROP.
CENTROP, the SU Biology Department’s implementing “arm” or program for instruction, research, and extension, supports students by providing research equipment and a venue for conducting research and applying of field methods.