DENR targets boosting SUC-based cloned seedling production

November 21, 2011 11:03 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 21 — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) aims maximizing its partnership with state universities and colleges (SUCs) nationwide to further boost production of cloned seedlings for planting under the 2011-2016 National Greening Program (NGP), so far the country's biggest reforestation bid covering some 1.5 million hectares of open, denuded and degraded land.

DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said such target partnership involves establishing and operating clonal nurseries in more SUCs, noting these institutions already possess the land, manpower and technical expertise for producing cloned NGP seedlings.

"SUCs have large idle tracts of land and competency for the cloning work so we can increasingly tap such institutions and don't have to re-invent the wheel," he said Monday at the opening program for the 7th National Biotechnology Week which DENR is spearheading this year.

The SUC-based nurseries' collective output will augment parallel production of cloned seedlings in DENR's own regional clonal facilities.

Cloned seedlings are grown from cuttings of the best parts of plant species targeted for mass production.

DENR is promoting such method since the government is fast-tracking reforestation nationwide.

Experts continue raising urgency for fast-tracking reforestation nationwide, noting studies show the Philippines already suffered during the 2000-2005 period alone an annual forest cover loss of about 2.1 percent.

Such deforestation rate was Southeast Asia's second fastest and the world's seventh most rapid, they noted.

DENR previously reported cloning reduces by some 30 percent the time seedlings need to mature so NGP areas can be greened faster.

Trees from cloned seedlings are harvestable in only about eight years instead of the usual 12 years for those from non-cloned planting material, DENR said.

Earlier, DENR cited the need to partner with other stakeholders since NGP requires an estimated 1.5 billion seedlings. Such seedlings cover both native species and exotics.

Paje said DENR previously inked with SUCs eight agreements on clonal nurseries' establishment in those learning institutions.

DENR earlier decided to sign some 30 more cloning agreements with other SUCs.

"I already tasked DENR's Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) to focus more on bio-technology and to produce part of NGP's seedlings in cooperation with SUCs," Paje said.

Paje reiterated that DENR will continue promoting the application of mycorrhizal fungi, a sustainable biotech remedy for helping enhance growth of NGP trees.

""It's going to boost tree growth even without using inorganic fertilizer," he said.

ERDB recognizes mycorrhizal fungi as "nature's gift" that work as "inevitable partners of almost all vascular plants."

Such fungi "form symbiosis with plants and exhibit dramatic growth enhancement under limiting conditions in the environment as revealed in most studies," said ERDB Supervising Science Research Specialist Dr. Evangeline Castillo.

She noted mycorrhizal fungi works well in areas with unfavorable plant growing conditions and where resources are limiting for normal growth of flora.

"We have large-scale uplands that are of marginal and sub-marginal conditions needing mycorrhizal application," she said.

Such uplands are among NGP's target areas. (PNA)



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