By JAMES TABABA
Bernard Restificar, owner of Oikos farm and Orchard, advocates the preservation of critically endangered and vulnerable Philippine native trees. He has propagated thousands of seedlings of Philippine native trees in his nursery with the hope that people will start to appreciate them more once he shares his farm filled with native trees for them to visit.
According to Restificar, there is so much to appreciate about our native trees. We don’t have to import. Native trees are easy to plant and to take care of. Why? They are native. They can grow in any soil in the Philippines.
He also discourages the importation of foreign trees as they can be invasive, destroying the ecological balance of our local environment.
Here are his five recommended native trees to plant:
Narra (Pterocarpus indicus)
Narra is the national tree of the Philippines. Known for being resilient and strong, it also has the ability to add nitrogen to the soil, it is a source of food for the bess, it is an excellent shade tree, its wood is fragrant, and it can serve as a good windbreak to protect crops and structures.
Molave (Vitex parviflora)
Molave, called tugas in the Visayas region, is a tree known for its good quality of wood. It is also an excellent crop in reducing soil erosion. Sadly, it is also listed among vulnerable trees from being endangered.Restificar said that there is a difficulty in germinating seeds of molave, contributing to the reason why it is hard to propagate and multiply in the wild.
Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa)
Banaba is a popular tree for its medicinal uses, especially in treatments for diabetes. But aside from that, it is also a beautiful ornamental tree that bears violet flowers. They are good pathway trees to provide shade. Furthermore, it can also act as windbreaks for stopping strong winds.
Lawaan (Shorea negrosensis)
For those who want to have tree plantations for producing timber, Restificar recommends the red and white lawaan. Lawaans are tall trees that can grow up to 50 meters. They are planted to produce premium long wood.
Before planting the lawaan for timber, Restificar suggested visiting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and getting a permit so that when the time comes to harvest the wood, there will be proof that the wood was not logged from the forest. Always observe sustainable logging practices by restoring the felled trees and rehabilitating the remaining forest.
Toog (Petersianthus quadrialatus)
Toog, or Philippine rosewood, is a tree that can grow up to 70 meters. It is abundant in forest Mindanao and it serves as nesting trees for large birds. Restificar planted these trees in their farm hoping to attract birds and give them homes.
Restificar encourages everyone to plant native trees because “they thrive in our own soil, prevent soil erosion, produce oxygen for use, and heals the ozone layer. When you plant a tree it becomes a home to other diverse flora and fauna. We don’t just realize it. But with one tree it becomes a home to animals and smaller plants. How much more if we plant more than one,” he said.
For more inquiries about the farm and the native trees, check out their Facebook page Oikos Orchard and Farm