By Rey Anthony Chiu | 10:27 AM May 20, 2023
Bohol may still have 19, possibly more surviving hardwood species, but with the continuing disregard for bio-diversity conservation and the strong lure of money, it may not be long before we could totally lose these forest giants.
Recent information from the Bohol Biodiversity Conservation Center through its center chief forester Restituto Piollo Jr. bared that of the 19 hardwood species found in Bohol, 13 are critically endangered or are vulnerable to extinction anytime soon.
In the list of threatened species in Bohol, Piollo showed 46 trees from dipterocarps to native endemic trees to ferns, which may be totally lost in this or the next generation if no intervention is immediately
And while illegal cutting, deforestation and urbanization pose as major threats leading to their extinction, unknowingly, the good intention to introduce exotic tree species may end up more harmful to the environment, hints Bohol Provincial Environment Management Office in charge Jovencia Ganub, during the recent Kapihan sa PIA.
Of the hardwood dipterocarps already documented to be still existing in Bohol, apitong, hagakhak (Hasselts Panau), Dagingdingan marag (Manggachapui), Gisok, Yakal Saplungan, Dagingdingan (Quisumbing Gisok), Almon, Lamod (White lauaan, Gisok (Guijo), Bolato (Yakal Malibato), Mayapis (Red Lauaan), Tanguile and Bagasawngon (Narig) have been identified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of nature (IUCN) and Department Administrative Order No 2007-002 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Other hardwoods that are not dipterocarps and listed as critically endangered are Mabolo (Kamagong), Bantolinao (Philippine Ebony), Kanomay (Bolongaita), anang (Kamagong lasang), Bayong (tindalo), Ipil, Duka (Batete), Naga (smooth and prickly narra), supa, tanglin, Tugas (Molave), Kaningag (Kalingag), Bantigui, Lanipga (Kalantas), Alinsuwang (Malasaguing), Dug-an (Duguan), Bungas (Malabayabas), Dao, Lamio, Sambolawan (Amuguis), Mandan (Huani), Pasan (Palasan), Sawong / Salong (Piling-liitan), Lunay, Tipolo and Katmon.
While still existent in Bohol forests and in forest fringes, these endemic trees and hardwoods are prevented from naturally propagating because some exotic species introduced to recover the lost forests are directly competing against these slow growers, that they die out in the long run, choked by these invasive trees species.
Moreover, the thick mat of leaves exotic foreign trees like mahogany shed, deny the fruits of these native trees from getting their roots to the ground and thus they dehydrate before they can even survive.
The acids in the mahogany leaves also tend to kill and poison anything that survives under the mother tree, to make sure it gets all the soil nutrients it needs to grow fast.
By cutting native trees, and in the intent of replacing the trees we lost, people are made to believe that using fast growing exotic lumber trees work just fine and come with premium lumber to harvest, most fall into that trap and have largely contributed to the disturbed and disrupted native ecosystems, shared Piollo, whose center in Rizal Bilar is fixed by law to make sure that Bohol biodiversity is restored by making endemic native and hardwood seedlings are available always.
The BBCC in Bilar has been collecting wildlings from identified dipterocarps, or propagating endemic trees to come up with a nursery that can supply Bohol’s tree growing activities with the necessary native trees that can be planted to restore lost forests and regain Bohol’s forest biodiversity like it was then, he said.
In fact, Piollo said they have totally banned exotic species in reforestation projects for their tendency to be invasive, compete with the native trees in the soil nutrients and in space, and contribute more harm to the environment than good, like the gmelina being a sucker for water that it drains water systems.
All it would take is one mahogany tree there, as it is capable of fruiting twice a year and its seeds totally dominant in under growths, it would not be long before the forest is filled with the mahogany trees, foresters explain.
Dipterocarps on the other hand, have 5 to 10 year fruiting cycles, that their chances of seed germination is typically much lesser that the exotic species that fruit twice a year these introduced species could easily over-run forest systems.
Over the years, since the start of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade to the American introduction of foreign exotic species that we think adds diversity and color to the environment, these introduced and generally accepted as good exotic trees which have been here for centuries, are now being regarded by the recent generation as native trees.
Botanists and plant biodiversity researchers however have come up with a list of exotic trees that have to be avoided in reforestations for biodiversity conservation reasons.
These include Black Wattle or Abuhin, Neem Tree, Aroma, Norfolk Pine, Paper Mulberry, Palo Santo, Kapok or Doldol / Dorol, Golden Shower, Brazillian Fern Tree, Bengal Currant, Pink Cassia, Pink Shower Tree, Palawan Cherry, Caballero, Dama de Noche, Durian, River Red Gum, Gmelina, Madre de Cacao/Kakwate, Ipil-ipil, Red Banaba, Fire Tree, Curry Tree, Aratilis, Mesquita Aroma, Falcata, Buyo Buyo, Money Tree, Indian Tree, Camachile, African tulip, Mahogany, Acacia or Rain Tree, Magic fruit, Teak Tree, African Talisay, and Madre de Agua.
The same list also showed fruits trees, which, if there other options, should be last on the options to replant.
These include Tamarind/Sampalok/ Sambag, Nangka, Balimbing, Guyabano /Karnaba/ Duyan/, chico, bayabas, avocado and lomboy /duhat.(rahc/PIA_7/Bohol)