Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has put up a tree seed center (TSC) within the 123-hectare Cebu Experimental Forest (CEF) in Minglanilla, Cebu to ramp up support for long term reforestation until 2028.

This TSC is the first in Visayas and follows setting up of a similar TSC in Bislig, Surigao del Sur. Both were established by the ERDB, the staff bureau of the DENR.

“The prospect of reforestation in Visayas region is bright because the tree seed center will not only be for Region 7 (Cebu) but for the whole Visayas,” said ERDB Director Dr. Henry A. Adornado.

The TSC is part of the forest nursery modernization program in line with the enhanced National Greening Program (eNGP) aimed to massively produce quality, disease free seeds. The Visayas TSC is just waiting for an occupancy permit to start operation.

Dr. Lustica revealed that the facility is equipped to test seeds for quality assurance. It will also be an avenue for laboratory testing and as storage area of quality seeds collected throughout the Visayas Region. The TSC will provide clients including forest tree and nursery growers, researchers, educators, and the public on proper seed processing and preparation, seed testing, registration and/or long-term storage for quality seeds.

“Availability of a variety of tree species will be enhanced as the TSC will do seed exchange”, according to Dr. Alicia L. Lustica who heads the Biodiversity, Coastal and Wetlands Ecotourism Research Center (BCWERC), the ERDB research center based in Cebu. Based on ERDB records, as of June 2015, Region 7 alone had seed collection and supply of 1.222 million.

Seed requirements will increase as Executive Order 193 mandated the extension of the NGP up to 2028.

Partners that may use Visayas TSC’s seed production include DENR-ERDB’s own provincial, city or municipal environment and natural resources offices (ENRO), state universities and colleges or SUCs, community and people’s groups, and private, industrial tree plantations.

The TSC has a seeder area where seeds are sown into containers, and are watered through misting for growth. Germinants are turned into seedlings in the growing area. In the harderning area, sunlight allows for drying of the seedlings for sturdiness.

ERDB received a mandate to put up forest TSCs under NGP. It now also has a TCP in Los Banos, Laguna. ERDB is further building TSCs in Loakan, Baguio City; Pagbilao, Quezon; and Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

“Seeds collected from the established seed sources—seed production areas and individual plus trees (SPAs and IPTs)-- nationwide will be submitted to forest TSC for processing and certification before it will be distributed to different stakeholders”.

About the Cebu Experimental Forest

BCWERC has been conducting research in CEF since June 1986, covering bamboo, rattan, dipterocarps (hardwood and tropical trees), narra, endemic tree species, neem, tiger grass, flowers, and honey production. It is also a site for training ENRO researchers on cave ecotourism and forest conservation.

The CEF itself is situated in the Philippines’ first reforestation project which is now century old. The Osmeña Reforestation Project, the country’s oldest reforestation was established in January 1916. It was a 2,710-hectare forest reserve area ran in earlier times by the Vatican known as the Friar Land Estate.

The CEF site is a biodiversity-rich area. It is home to faunal species as Kokok (Philippine coucal, Alimokon (White eared browndove),Tamsi (sunbird), Maya (Munia), Tikling (Moorhen), Pugo (Buttonquail), Manatad (Common Emerald Dove),Toktor (Barber), Punay, Siloy (Cebu black sharma), Ngiwng (Grass owl), Sayaw (Swift), Kikik (Koel), Gitgit (Swallow), Tagmaya (Bulbul), and Uwak (crow).

The top 10 tree species here are teak, gmelina, lumbang, lanutan,narra, antsoan dilau, Benguet pine, banaba, and auri.

Despite being considered a national heritage and a protected and forest reservation area, it is faced with threats of illegal logging. Informal settlement, farming, wildlife hunting, sand, gravel and black stone extract and bamboo harvest are also threats.