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‘Plant more native trees to promote ecosystem integrity, biodiversity’, urge environment advocates

Native tree experts and enthusiasts have encouraged the public to plant more native trees in idle and private lands as they tend to adapt more naturally to their local surrounding.

During the 14th episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Pathways” organized by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the Office of Antique Rep. Loren Legarda, Tanggol Kalikasan legal adviser Asis Perez underscored the benefits of tree farms, as it promote ecosystems integrity and biodiversity.

“Over this period of 10 years, we (Tanggol Kalikasan) have these takeaways: Unang-una po, napakaraming private lands ang nakatiwangwang, wala pong tanim at available for planting trees. Pangalawa, what we saw is pwede sa isang lugar madami kang puno na itanim. And we also realized na maganda ang family-based approach, kaya ang ginawa po namin, talagang pami-pamilya ang kinakausap namin and they are the ones whom we deal directly,” Perez said.

(First of all, a lot of private lands are vacant, there are no plants and they are available for planting trees. Second, what we saw is that in one place you can plant many trees. And we also realized that the family-based approach is good, so what we did, we really talked to families and they are the ones whom we deal with directly.)

Ephraim Cercado, a medical surgeon and manager of the Philippine Native Tree Enthusiasts, said that the country’s biodiversity has so much to offer.

“Meron po tayong 3,600 tree species. We’ve been planting a lot of mahogany, gmelina, at falcata. Bakit po tayo nagti-tiyaga sa barya kung pwede naman tayong kumita nang mas malaki? Mas maganda kasi yung mao-offer sa atin ng native species. Kung tanim po tayo nang tanim ng puro exotic species, masisira po ang biodiversity hanggang sa microscopic level, at nagpro-promote po tayo ng mas maraming pandemic. That’s why we need to plant native species,” Cercado said.

(We have 3,600 tree species. We’ve been planting a lot of mahogany, gmelina, and falcata. Why would be satisfied with a little income when we can earn more? What the native species can offer us is better. If we only plant exotic species, biodiversity will be destroyed up to the microscopic level, and we will promote more pandemics. That’s why we need to plant native species.)

Kaleekasann Nursery founder Lee Ann Canals-Silayan explained that some of the trees are good for urban landscaping.

“Nagsimula lang ako sa pagpulot ng mga buto kung saan-saan—sa campus, sa park, sa subdivision, lagi akong nakatingin sa kung ano-anong puno na nakatanim sa paligid. At pupulutin ko sila, aalamin ang pangalan nila, at paano sila itanim. Karamihan sa mga seeds natin, simpleng patong lang sa lupa tapos hihintayin mong umusbong siya, pero may ilan na kailangan ng kaunting preparation. Makakatulong na mayroong libro tungkol sa propagation ng puno at magtanong online sa Philippine Native Tree Enthusiasts, pati sa aking Instagram and Facebook accounts,” she said.

(I just started picking seeds everywhere — on campus, in the park, in the subdivision, I was always looking at what trees were planted around me. And I will pick them up, find out their names, and how to plant them. Most of our seeds are just simply covered on the ground and then you wait for it to sprout, but there are some that need a little preparation. It would be helpful to have a book on tree propagation and ask questions online at Philippine Native Tree Enthusiasts, as well as on my Instagram and Facebook accounts.)

Legarda noted that planting and maintaining green spaces have been vital in maintaining people’s mental and physical health through the coronavirus pandemic. 

The planting of native trees should be prioritized in the tree-planting efforts of communities as these not only sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but also helps restore the natural biodiversity of landscapes, she added.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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