DENR tries cloning of forest treesBy Tonette Orejas
Inquirer Central Luzon
ARAYAT, Pampanga—Forest trees are now being cloned in Central Luzon through a nursery at the foot of Mount Arayat here so the region can grow quality trees for its share in the National Greening Program and for the timber needs of industries, environment officials said on Thursday.
The cloning method is used because dipterocarps (tropical trees) like guijo, gisok-gisok, palosapis, dagang and white lauan start flowering or fruiting when these are 15 to 20 years old, said Maximo Dichoso, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) executive director in Central Luzon.
The technique produces trees from cuttings than from seeds, said Restituto Bauan, officer in charge of the DENR’s Ecosystem Research and Development Bureau in the region. Trees produced through cloning are genetically identical to the mother or parent trees.
The cuttings are taken from shoots of more than 300 mother trees planted at the foothills of Mt. Arayat, Bauan said.
The cuttings are sterilized and treated with rooting hormone before these are grown in trays sealed in plastic bags or under a tent.
The P2.5-million clonal nursery in Mt. Arayat is the first in Central Luzon and is similar to a DENR facility in Laguna, Bauan said.
The nursery, Dichoso said, does not use genetically modified species.
“As we produce the true and exact character of a tree, the cuttings come from trees that are endemic to our environment. We have to clone because this is an efficient way of growing some nearly extinct species like ipil,” he said.
The survival rate of shoots here is 60 percent, Bauan said. The nursery has so far produced some 3,000 dipterocarps since it opened last month.
People’s organizations will be tapped to help in planting and caring for the trees, DENR officials said.
After Mimaropa (Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) and Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon has the third-biggest forest cover in the country.
Recent data released by the DENR Forest Management Bureau showed that Central Luzon has 589,945 hectares of forest lands.