By Michelle Domocol
In previous articles, I described the environmental recovery and reforestation techniques practiced at Healing Present. In this post, I’d like to continue our chat about agroforestry and forest restoration.
We select a variety of indigenous trees that will survive the current conditions of Healing Present’s site. We also choose them for the ecological benefits. Generally, all of the species chosen for reforestation enrich the land by:
- increasing soil fertility,
- supporting native wildlife,
- feeding food pollinators like bees and butterflies, and
- controling soil erosion
Healing Present’s crew cultivates hundreds of tree species (Photo 1). Many of these species are already established or waiting to be planted. The current rainy season and typhoon repairs delay our progress sometimes. But I want to highlight 5 indigenous trees and the important roles they play in our restoration:
1. Toog (Petersianthus quadrialatus)
When respected and left alone, this towering giant can grow to 65 meters. As part of an agroforest and restoration site, Toog has the ability to repel pests like destructive woodboring beetles. Toog are homes to important wildlife and mitigate the loss of tropical forest biodiversity.
2. Dakit (Ficus benjamina)
On a sunny day, you’d want rest against a Dakit’s trunk and under its canopy. On average, its leaves and branches spread to a 21-meter crown. The canopy provides the best shade for people, shade-loving plants, and animals. Thankfully, the shade also suppresses sun-loving weeds. On top of that, Dakit attracts vital seed-spreading wildlife like birds and bats. It can endure degraded soil and quickly occupy abandoned areas that need reforestation.
3. Kapok (Bombax ceiba)
Traditionally, Kapok’s seeds and pink blossoms were used for food and medicine. In Healing Present, kapok is primarily planted for its ecological functions. Like Dakit, it can quickly occupy barren woodland. Its fragrant flowers also attract key pollinators like bees and birds. In addition, a 25-meter tall Kapok tree can serve as a boundary marker. A group of Kapok can also form a living fence.
4. Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa)
Banaba (Photo 1) is more than the gorgeous purple flowers. Agroforesters treasure banabas and their ability repair unstable soils, control erosion, and add nutrients to formerly degraded forests. Beyond those incredible qualities, banaba can be pruned. The pruned leaves, fruit, and branches can be food for livestock and medicine.
5. Kamagong (Diospyrus blancoi)
Finally, we arrived at the beloved Kamagong. With its reddish, velvety mabolo fruit, Kamagong has so much more to offer than furniture timber. Kamagong in restoration projects are amazing partners in soil erosion control and wind-resistance. Wind-breaks and wind-resistant trees are like environmental guardians in a country so vulnerable to typhoons.
There you have it…5 rockstars in Healing Present’s growing reforestation project. I hope you get inspired to learn more about our precious environmental heritage and the various ways to protect it.