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DENR backs biotechnology enhanced tree production

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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is open to biotechnological interventions that will help boost growth of trees so the country can increasingly produce wood for domestic consumption.

DENR Secretary Ramon Paje raised urgency for such interventions, noting nationwide consumption of wood continues but area for producing this commodity is limited.

"We must strive meeting our needs despite such spatial limitations," he said. DENR's preliminary 2009 data placed the Philippines' estimated wood consumption at some 1.44 million cubic meters (M3) log equivalent.

Such data also show the country imported about 637,626 M3 of wood since local production volume for this commodity (801,520 M3) was insufficient for domestic needs.

Authorities are optimistic biotechnology can help address such local production shortfall.

Biotechnology is technology that uses organisms or parts of these either to make or modify products, to improve and develop micro-organisms, plants and animals or to develop organisms for specific purposes in a more precise manner.

Such technology has agricultural, industrial, medical and environmental applications. Paje said it is possible for an area to increasingly produce wood if growth of trees there improves.

"The same hectarage can yield more volume of wood," he said. DENR's Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) continues promoting a sustainable biotechnological intervention involving application of mycorrhizal fungi to help enhance plant growth.

Such fungi "form symbiosis with plants" and "can remedy multiple environmental stresses together at one time," ERDB noted.

ERDB said the fungi works well in areas with unfavorable plant growing conditions and where resources are limiting for normal growth of flora.

Such areas include uplands which government aims reforesting through its 2011-2016 National Greening Program.

The program targets planting about 1.5 billion seedlings to green some 1.5 million hectares of open, degraded and denuded forest land nationwide.

By PNA/PIA9-ZBST





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