Controlling the invasive Gmelina and bringing back biodiversity

Venecio Lingbawan and Florence Daguitan

In the 1990’s, gmelina (Gmelina arborea) was promoted in our territory in Guinaang Pasil, Kalinga. It is fast growing they say and can be harvested as timber after 10 years. We planted these in the u’uma (rotational agricultural areas) and in the boboloy (residential areas) in the ba-ang. Baang is mainly planted with trees; fruit bearing including oranges, jackfruits, avocado, pomelo, some are dominated by coffee; bananas and forest tree species, eg, narra, obol, towol for building houses, and bamboos (bulo and kawayan). Planting these perennial crops earn the family the right of ownership over the baang and these are bequeathed to their next generation. But while privatised these can still be used as pasture lands, as grass also grow abundantly in most of the baang.

With the readily available seedlings and promise of cash, we planted more gmelina but we observed that almost nothing is growing underneath. As the gmelina grow their crown, we observed that there is decreased yield in our crops such as coffee and beans. We waited for the trees to be big enough for timber, cut these and removed the roots and replaced these with the trees that we find in our land since time immemorial. By 2015, the diverse trees were restored.  We also realised that in the years that gmelina were abundant, some birds left our territories.  When we cut the gmelina and the native trees were restored, we observed the return of the birds.

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