(Left photo) The tree inventory activity of Benguet pine conducted by a multi-party team at the Camp John Hay in February 2019. (Right photo) A trunk of mature pine tree damaged by bark beetle.

The Watershed and Water Resources Research Development and Extension Center (WWRRDEC) is in its final stage of revising three (3) research proposals on program on Benguet pine (Pinus kesiya) resiliency. WWRRDEC aims to implement the R & D studies during the year in response to the marching orders of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to conduct an inventory of Benguet pine at the Camp John Hay (CJH) in Baguio City.

During his visit to Baguio in 2019, Sec. Cimatu observed the dying pine trees in the premier city and immediately ordered DENR-CAR and WWRRDEC to address the problem. The first activity was the assessment of the living and dying/dead trees. Bark beetle infestation has been identified as one of the causes of the forest stand deterioration at CJH.

The research proposals aimed to address the declining pine trees in Baguio City.  The proposals had undergone a series of thorough evaluation in 2019 and had withstood the final review by the Technical Review Committee of the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau during the en banc session held on February 11, 2020 under the strict orders of newly-installed Director Nonito M. Tamayo.  The studies will be conducted initially at the Camp John Hay where there are still large concentrations of Benguet pine stands which need to be protected.

In view of the above, the proposals seek to assess the biophysical characteristics of the Benguet pine stands within the watersheds in Baguio City, study their natural regeneration potentials and gather relevant biotic and abiotic parameters to develop a model to forecast pest incidences of the Benguet pine.  Once implemented, the research endeavor is expected to benefit the forest program implementors, researchers, forest managers, policy-makers in developing or supporting related programs towards the protection of Benguet pine, craft and/or improve existing policies in promoting the resiliency of Benguet pine and its related environs and raise awareness among stakeholders in the preservation of this iconic tree in Baguio City. Estrella E. Patrimonio, WWRRDEC