Save the Trees: Five Endangered Tree Plants in the Philippines 

May 4, 2021

Earth Day occurs in April. 

And while we should take initiatives to protect our environment and conserve what little natural resources we have every day, April is the one month to demonstrate our support for the movement. In this regard, let this upcoming Earth day be a manifestation of our advocacy in protecting Mother Nature. Let us make April a month-endeavor of raising environmental protection awareness, starting with the most critically endangered species—plants and animals alike— in our country. 

Fun fact: The International Day of Forests, which falls on the 21st of March every year. This worldwide celebration aims to raise awareness on a topic that is often overlooked: The importance of forests. This day sheds light on deforestation issues which threaten our planet. Increased urbanization and infrastructure expansion contribute to the growth of our cities but encroach on our shrinking forests. Today, deforestation is occurring rapidly, and if we do not do something about this rather alarming situation soon, we may find ourselves suffering the consequences. Keep in mind that forests are the “lungs” of our cities in that they help clean the air and provide oxygen. It is unfortunate that we lose many of them to human-made developments such as roads and commercial places. While city expansions, paved roads, and the like may lead to an economic boost, it comes at a tremendous environmental cost—one which we can no longer afford considering the current state of our forests. 

The Philippines is a country rich in biodiversity. As such, it is home to 14,000 plant species. Unfortunately, at least 700 animal and plant species are under great threat, according to a United Nations report. Bear in mind that forests are the primary habitat of most of these species and other wildlife. With deforestation becoming a prevalent problem, these animals lose their homes and may would soon face extinction. As stewards of the earth, we should have a little more regard for our trees, especially now that they are diminishing in number. Today, we should endeavor to have concrete action plans that would save our forests, such as tree planting or supporting organizations that advocate for the same, like RAFI One to Tree. As Earth Day falls this month, taking time to learn some of our country’s native yet endangered trees may raise awareness as to which tree species need attention and help the most. t

a.) NARRA 

Known as one of the country’s national symbols, the Narra tree is a native tree that has stood the test of time. For many, its sturdiness is often likened to the Filipino’s resilience and is associated with their unwavering spirit. Narra is one of the tree species in the Philippines whose wood makes for a durable base for a variety of furniture pieces. It is commonly used to make a slew of home furnishings such as beds, drawers, cabinets, tables, and chairs, just to name a few. Similarly, the Narra tree functions as a windbreaker to protect food crops as well. Unfortunately, it has been revealed by the studies conducted by the University of the Philippines Los Baños that there are only a few thousand Narra trees left in the world. 

b.) ALMACIGA 

The Almaciga Tree is one of the Sierra Madre mountains’ endangered forest trees, according to the study conducted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center. Almaciga’s resin, a thick substance extracted from a plant, is then converted to polymer used in making printing ink, paint, varnish, lacquer, and incense, among others. It is also interesting to note that the Almaciga’s high-quality resin is known internationally as “Manila copal.” 

c.) PHILIPPINE TEAK 

The survival of the Philippine teak is in peril owing to the country’s rapid deforestation. Often used as firewood, the Philippine teak is a small tree commonly found in the Luzon region It is known for its durability, making it a good tree for construction purposes such as paneling and flooring. This small but magnificent tree can withstand the effects of insects and weathering. Despite its resilient characteristics, it is still classified as one of the country’s most endangered trees due to continuous illegal logging. 

d.) AKLE 

Also commonly used for house constructions, Akle is a medium-sized tree commonly found in the lowland forests of Negros Islands and northern Luzon. Apart from house constructions, this sturdy tree is also sourced for cabinets owing to its grain quality, durability, and color. Unfortunately, like the other trees listed above, the Akle tree is classified as an endangered species because of rapid deforestation. 

e.) KAMAGONG

Kamagong is known for its dark color, but it is also regarded as one of the hardest types of wood. The Kamagong timber or “ironwood” is one of the most expensive kinds of wood available in the market as it is found in the Philippines exclusively. Unfortunately, Kamagong is also classified as a critically endangered tree. Thankfully, organizations such as Masungi Georeserve Foundation have made big strides and efforts to ensure its protection by planting more Kamagong seedlings. 

 

FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO TO SAVE ENDANGERED TREES 

Now that you know which trees are classified as endangered in the country, it is time to develop concrete actions to help them. 

So, what can you do in your personal capacity to help our endangered trees? Below is a list of suggestions to help you have a head start in your endeavor:

1.) Learn about endangered species in your area 

While we have already discussed five endangered trees in this article, it does not hurt to educate yourself more about your area’s endangered species. Take time to learn about the wildlife surrounding you. Do not limit yourself to the trees and include the plants and animals as well. Keep in mind that the first step to protecting endangered species is learning about their importance. Our planet has already blessed us with indispensable resources and services such as clean air, water, and food for medicinal, commercial, aesthetic, and recreational purposes. It is up to us to preserve these. 

2.) Avoid using herbicides and pesticides

While both may give your yards aesthetic appeal by keeping them free from insects, these chemicals contain hazardous pollutants that negatively impact wildlife at many levels. Herbicides and pesticides take a long time to build up in the soils, which can cause a disruption in the food chain when consumed by wild animals. Predators such as owls, eagles, and the like can be seriously harmed if they eat poisoned animals and plants. That said, choose an organic alternative for keeping your gardens and yards looking pretty and well-kept. 

3.) Recycle and buy sustainable products 

Always choose to buy household items that utilize recycled or up-cycled natural materials such as bamboo. Similarly, avoid buying furniture products made from rainforest wood.You can also minimize your palm oil use because plenty of forests are being cut down to plant palm plantations. 

4.) Plant native plants and trees 

Planting native plants and trees attract native insects to your garden, which can help pollinate your plants. One thing most people overlook is that the spread of non-native species has affected native populations all around the world. Invasive species tend to compete with native species for resources and habitat. There are even instances wherein invasive species prey on native species directly, driving native species to extinction. 

5.) Join environmental organizations such as RAFI One to Tree 

RAFI One to Tree is an organization that endeavors to counteract the effects of harmful practices such as deforestation and illegal logging. Similarly, the organization aims to revive biodiversity in the country with a dedicated team that advocates and supports the same goals in growing native trees for a more sustainable future. If you share the same advocacy and wish to have a more direct hand at preserving our wildlife and native trees, consider supporting RAFI One to Tree by planting a native tree today.