Sunday, February 14, 2010

Government Reforestation Efforts on Mahogany Plantations: Pushing Our Native Trees Toward Extinction

Originating from the Neotropics (southern Florida, the Carribean, Mexico and Central America), Mahogany, popularly known as either of the two, Big-leafed mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) and the much smaller leaves as Mahogany (Swietenia mahogani) were introduced as early as 1907, then at Mt. Makiling forestry in 1913. Mahogany was one of the exotic species to be showcased by the government's reforestation projects in different parts of the country such as Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, Cebu, Bohol, Negros and Bukidnon. It is widely distributed throughout the archipelago that seedlings made its way to other places such as national parks and especially private lands.

I won't be surprised of this because DENR offices / nurseries throughout the country has been propagating mainly on exotic species which includes mahogany. I have even heard of a local telling me years ago (about 11yrs.) that the DENR officials in their area were telling them that if they planted mahogany in one hectare of land, they will be able to get an ROI (return of investment) of about 1 million pesos after several years until harvest time from the sale of the lumber of such trees. Who wouldn't be tempted to invest and embark on such ventures knowing that 1 million pesos is a great sum of money way back then.

Studies show that according to the FAO Corporate Document Repository entitled, The unwelcomed guests. Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific forest invasive species..... by N.T. Baguinon, M.O. Quimado and G.J. Francisco from the University of the Philippines, Los Banos that:

"Mahogany is successful at invading natural forests due to the following attributes of the species. The fruit of mahogany is a capsule and contains an average of 62 winged seeds (Anonymous, 1930). The number of seeds a mahogany mother tree can disperse is considerable. Assuming 50 capsules, 3000 seeds can be blown away from the mother tree. The seeds can be blown some 20 to 40 meters from the mother tree. The seeds, being recalcitrant, germinate in less than a month. Mahogany seeds contain food reserves and germinate hypogeal. This means that even if the initial light is relatively poor, the young mahogany plant develops even without initial photosynthesis. The first young leaves of mahogany are scale leaves and not green. True photosynthetic leaves come later and are adapted to sun-flecked shade and partial shade. Hardened mahogany seedlings can tolerate open fields as long as soil moisture is not limiting. The leaves of mahogany are rarely attacked by herbivores. Thus a mahogany plantation is like a "green desert" to wildlife. Dipterocarps fruit and seed irregularly in intervals of four to five years and therefore stand no chance competing with mahogany.

When mother trees shed their leaves during the months of February, they form a thick litter mat. Dry mahogany leaves are red and can be very rich in tannin. The leaves are intact during the whole length of the dry season. This litter mat could be one reason why very few seedlings are recruited under the mahogany plantation, including their own seedlings. Dispersed recalcitrant seeds rest on top of the litter mat instead of reaching the moist soil and hence die due to desiccation.

They may also be allelopathic (Thinley, 2002). Extracts from the leaves of mahogany were shown to retard the growth of narra (Pterocarpus indicus) test seedlings. Recruits increase away from the mahogany plantation and this increase is proportional to the competition offered by mahogany wildlings (Alvarez, 2001; Castillo, 2001). The importance of mahogany seedlings is negatively correlated with the Shannon-Weiner Diversity Indices of quadrats positioned from the mahogany plantation and away from it. In other words, diversity of the quadrats decreases as the importance of mahogany increases."

The disadvantages of introducing exotic species one after another is just being realized by our countrymen. Reverting the consequences of these actions may be too late because we might have damaged ecosystems that we have yet to discover. If only we learn to appreciate what we already have and tapping its full potential and managing it properly for future generations, then maybe we wouldn't be experiencing all these environmental problems that we are facing now.

Today, DENR's PAWB (Parks and Wildlife Bureau) is prohibiting such exotic species to be planted in the Integrated Protected Areas System (IPAS) within the Philippines. Defining such areas I have yet to see.

DISCLAIMER. I have posted this write-up about "Mahogany", which is an exotic and invasive tree species in order to further enlighten readers of its harmful effects and disadvantages towards our native Philippine flora. I am against planting and propagating this tree species, nor am I promoting it.

36 comments:

reynaldo said...

Is this the reason why mahogany leaves is not good in composting?...could you post here studies of "thinly, 2002) proofs or substances found in this mahogany leaves? thank you

Rico said...

Hi Reynaldo! Maganda ang tanong mo kaya i-research ko muna ang sagot. hehehe.....

Meanwhile, ito ang sabi sa wikipedia nung hinanap ko ang meaning ng "allelopathic or allelopathy".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allelopathic

Please check out the website kasi may picture din na naka post that shows the habit of Casuarina Equisetifolia (Agoho, which is indigenous in the Philippines), littering its leaves in comparison to mahogany leaves.

Will get back to you as soon as I have an answer to your question. Thank you for taking the time to post your comment.

Rico said...

Reynaldo,

Going back to the quoted source, which came from this link,

http://www.fao.org/docrep/008/ae944e/ae944e09.htm

and scrolling down below to check on the reference, I found out that: "Thinley P. 2002. Negative interaction between large leaf mahogany (*Swietenia macrophylla King) and some indigenous tree secies in lowland forest of Mt. Makiling - allelopathy, a possible cause? Unpublished B.S. Forestry Thesis, UPLB-CFNR." is as it indicated is an unpublished thesis, which I do not have access to.

I am not an expert neither an authority to answer your question, though I feel a certain responsibility to do so, since it is part of my blog. I guess what I can advice you and others is just be observant and keen to what is more obvious. Sometimes, the answer to our question comes from the simplest method or might just be something you already know.

I hope that I have shared some light to your query.

Feel free to browse and give comments. Hope to hear more from you soon.

regards.

medelita said...

i am interested in planting mahogany tree on the property i bought in camiguin island. do you think it would be suitable to propagate this kind of tree on a land next to old volcano.
i'm no expert gardener but i am very keen in growing trees of deff kind to shade n minimise global warming. i'm just beginning.
and if, where can i buy seedlings of mahogany?

Rico said...

Hi Medelita! First of all, I would like to thank you for asking me this question before taking any drastic steps with your property in Camiguin. I hope that you have read the article that I have written above regarding Mahogany trees and the negative effects that it has done to our Philippine ecosystem.

I applaud you for having noble intentions in helping the country and the whole world in addressing the problems we are facing with global warming. However, I would NOT recommend Mahogany (Swietenia Macrophylla / Swietenia Mahogani)as planting species, because not only are they considered invasive species to Philippine soil, but this type of tree also retards the growth of other significant native trees that are original or endemic to your area. Native Philippine trees are of no match to the Mahogany once it has established itself as a mature tree as explained in the blog article. We don't want the spread of such exotic species especially to Camiguin island since Camiguin is considered to be one of the seven (7) remaining and most diverse ecosystems in the Philippines next to Batanes, Palanan wilderness, Mt. Pulog, Sibuyan island, Bohol and Mt. Apo.

I'm sorry because I cannot site the source of this information since I can't find the file myself or the website where I previously read about it.

The best thing to do is to go to your local DENR office in Camiguin and inquire about native species of Philippine trees that are available in their nursery. Please be specific to ask the DENR personnel of NATIVE PHILIPPINE TREE SPECIES, because they might just recommend Mahogany or other imported tree species such as Acacia, Gmelina, Ipil-ipil and the like.

What you would want to plant just to give you an idea are the true Philippine Mahogany or the Lauan's, Apitong, Almon, Yakal, Bagtikan, which are dipterocarps or the Molave, Kamagong, Narra, Tindalo, Dao and Amugis.

By planting these local tree species especially the ones native to Camiguin, you are not only helping reduce global warming in your area but you are also protecting the endangered trees of Camiguin and the Philippines. Now what can be more noble than that?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

HELLO GUD DAY SIR/ MA'AM. I WOULD LIKE TO ASK THE MARKET VALUE OF A MATURE MAHOGANY TREE AND THAT OF HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THIS TREE TO MATURE AND READY TO BE SOLD. TNX

black_limon12 said...

HI!! I want to ask something, do you know something about mahogany fruit shell properties? physical and chemical? where can i found it?

It's for my thesis... thank you!!!!

black_limon12 said...

HI!! I want to ask something, do you know something about mahogany fruit shell properties? physical and chemical? where can i found it?

It's for my thesis... thank you!!!!

Anonymous said...

with regards to reference unpublished thesis of thinley can be found at the UP College of Forestry Library thesis section.

Anonymous said...

NICE

Anonymous said...

Hi can I ask if you have existing mahogany plants on your own farm lot ,how long should this be harvested and do we have to secure permits to cut the timbers and who would be potential buyers to this.
In 6 years should the tree be how big?,we have not nurtured it much as no enough source of water.What advice could you give to achieve a good size tree by its age.
Many thanks

Rico said...

DISCLAIMER. I have posted this write-up about "Mahogany", which is an exotic and invasive tree species in order to further enlighten readers of its harmful effects and disadvantages towards our native Philippine flora. I am against planting and propagating this tree species, nor am I promoting it.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I am one with you. But like Medelita, I too want to venture in Mahogany farming. but reading your advise to her, i want to ask if planting Philippine mahogany species a good investment compared to the true mahogany? I heard it has the same income curve - but wants to be sure. Thanks

Joe Palmores

Rico said...

Joe, I have been planting and establishing Philippine plants and trees for a staggered duration of 6 1/2 years now. My dream is to establish a small arboretum/sanctuary alongside my dad's vegetable farm that we are trying to develop.

My soul intention is to preserve, conserve and propagate what is left of our Philippine flora and eventually bring back the dwindling fauna in the wild.

Though in order to sustain this goal, I am aware that whatever limited resources we have should also be replenished from time to time. That is why I need to consider of other options as well in order to develop ways for the farm to sustain itself without sacrificing the natural balance that I want the farm to attain.

As for your question, I cannot answer it because I am not in the commercial lumber business nor am I in the trade of such products. What I can say is that based from my observations from the "Mahogany" tree growth rate, it is not that fast growing as other claim it to be. I would similarly compare its growth and wood characteristics to the likes of Philippine endemic and indigenous trees such as the Narra, Amugis, Dao and Ipil that also produce the same quality if not exceptional wood.

Also, there are factors that you need to consider first. Is your property area suitable for a dipterocarp forest or a molave forest? Dipterocarp tree species are known to be the giants of the forest. These are the type of trees that are sold as lumber, girder, rafters, posts and other construction purposes which require structural strength. While molave type trees are medium to large size that produce highly prized wood with beautiful grain and color, which is often preferred by furniture makers and novelty items.

Site selection is key, then type of tree species to plant and produce is next in determining your goal. One dipterocarp species that I can site, which grows moderately fast from my observation is Bagtikan. Of course, soil, climate and location are equally important in determining what is best for your area to grow. Different tree species grow from fast to moderately fast to slow. Generally, the slower the growth rate in its natural habitat the harder and stronger the wood is.....By the way, I am not pertaining to trees that are stunted because of poor habitat requirement or closely spaced planting. LOL.

Wishing you the best of luck in your endeavor. I just hope that you will make the right decision and do what is best to help protect not only your interest but our country's interest as well.

Anonymous said...

I like this page, can I post your link to my fb page 'Tree Lover?' i want to promote awareness and appreciation for Philippine trees among my friends and community. I also need help identifying some of the trees in the photo. please have a look and help identify. thanks! Beth aka Tree Lover'

Rico said...

Beth, thank you for visiting my blog and for sharing your comment. Yes, you may do so in posting my link into your fb page, "Tree Lover". Anything that will help in promoting our native Philippine flora and fauna will be much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

hindi naman siguro papayag ang goberno natin kung nalang pala ang mangyayari pag nag tanim ng ganung klasing mahogany. lahat naman ng bagay may advantages at disadvantages diba po rico. pag aralan nalang muno natin ng masusi. yours in success karlmarxs27.

Rico said...

karlmarxx27, kadalasan naman kasi ay kulang ang masusing pag-aaral sa epekto ng mga exotic species na iniintroduce sa isang bansa. Halimbawa na lang ang plecostomus o janitor fish na nagkalat sa ating mga ilog at lawa na kumakain ng itlog ng mga native species na isda natin, ang golden kuhol na salot at peste sa ating mga palayan, ang cane toad o bufo marinus na kumakain ng iba't-ibang species ng insekto at maging native nating palaka. May epekto din ito sa mga puno natin, hindi lang masyadong halata.

Sa tulong ng tao at mga Pilipino, masdan at pansinin natin kung ilang percent na lang ang native species ng flora ang makikita sa metro manila, sa mga bayan sa probinsya, sa buong Pilipinas???

mike said...

saan po ba makakabili ng seedlings ng tindalo? narinig ko pa sa lolo ko na magandang kahoy ang tindalo. gusto ko po sanang magtanim nito para makita ko po ang tunay na tindalo at hindi sa picture lang.

Rico said...

Hi, Mike! Subukan ko kung makahanap ako ng seedlings ng Tindalo. May email ka ba kung sakali para dun na lang kita i-reply? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

sa kabila ng sinasabing masamang epekto ng mahogany. gusto ko pa ring magtanim nito. sa anong klasing lupa po mainam itanim ang mahogany?

Anonymous said...

I cannot agree to the idea that Big Leaf Mahogany is invasive for a fact that most B.L. Mahogany plantations that I visited, this species have not invaded the surrounding areas. Try to go to Pasonanca Park in Zamboanga City, Cogon Reforestation in Dipolog City and SAMMILIA in Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur to name a few. These B.L. Mahogany plantations of over 40-50 years have not invaded surrounding areas. . . FYI

Anonymous said...

is there an ordinance or a law banning mahogany seedling to replenish a degraded forest?

Rico said...

Anonymous, I am not aware of any law or ordinance that bans planting of this exotic mahogany species in our forests, but I hope there is.

In my opinion, there should be a restricted area for commercial lumber plantations, which cater to exotic species of trees such as mahogany. The Philippine forest is NOT the place for such exotic species because they don't belong there!

Anonymous said...

I'm planning to plant mahogany tree to my 2 hectare area. What tree is the best for us to plant?

Rico said...

Anonymous, first thing you should do is to analyze your area. Where in the Philippines is your site or property located? What soil type does your area have? What is the nature of this plantation? Are you going to plant a single species as in a monoculture type or are you going to plant a variety of species? Are you going to cut and sell the lumber once they reach a considerable size or is this plantation for your future enjoyment or for conservation and preservation purposes?......These are just some of the questions that I would like to know.

Anonymous said...

Hi good day, I just read comments regarding mahoney and much interested in planning this trees,I have hectars of land which currently planted coconut trees. Would it be possible to plant mahoney on areas in between coconut trees?

Thank you and God Bless

Anonymous said...

Hi good day.
I just read comments regarding planting of mahogany and much interested in planting this trees. I have hectars of land and currently planted coconut trees. Would it be possible to plant mahogany in between that areas of coconut trees. Thank you for your advice.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rico!!
Do you know where or who should I look for to find information about mahogany plantations in the Philippines?
I need to make a map of all the available sources of mahogany plantations in your country for my thesis.
Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rico, We were one of the ones who planted philippine mahogany in1996. Wish we planted something else. You mentioned that your family plants vegetables. By any chance, have you used the leaves for mulch on vegetables? Do the leaves affect the taste and quality of the vegetables?

Rico said...

Anonymous, the only Mahogany seedlings that germinate inside our property are from seeds of Mahogany trees, which are propelled by the wind from the neighboring Mahogany plantation. Once I see this invasive species germinating inside our property, I pull them out of the soil and disregard it. Nothing of this exotic species is left to grow further as I don't want it to compete with our own tree species....... And no, I haven't used Mahogany leaves as mulch.

Thanks for posting :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Rico. Though I have very very little knowledge about tree planting, I am very much interested to learn more. I am quite confused right now after I read your blog. Can you send me an e mail to sars26@icloud.com? I will just compose my thoughts and send you an email. Hoping you dont mind. :)

Don Enrico Concepcion said...

rico/tristan..may i know what common reforestation tree species are there in the country?i need this info to tell some scouts this month when we go hiking towards a waterfall here in our city. i will
just search for the photos of these species and research their scientific names and uses.so when i have identified them as we walk along,i can tell them.

Rico said...

sars26@icloud.com, i did email you May 24, 2013, but you didn't reply. Forgot about it until today.

Rico said...

Don Enrico Concepcion, some of the more popular species indigenous to our country are the Narra, Kamagong, Molave, Ipil, Dao, Kalantas, Banaba, Agoho, Bagras, Almaciga and Benguet pine. Other species which produce long straight bole and are preferred for construction purposes are the Red and White lauan, Bagtikan, Apitong, Palosapis, Tanguile, Almon, Yakal, and Guijo to name a few.

While most of us are aware of the likes of Mahogany, Gmelina, Teak or Tekla, Falcata, Acacia, Mangium and Rubber tree. Unfortunately, these are introduced species which are invasive and compete with our native species.

Nowadays, old growth forests are becoming scarce. Century old and giant trees are being felled one by one. Many of our forest species are threatened of extinction.

Your waterfall area might be a haven for biodiversity. Let us all protect our natural resources and educate everybody for a healthier and sustainable future.

Kudos to you! :)

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