Tree surgeons saved 33 century old, endangered trees in Baguio, Benguet, Abra

BAGUIO CITY – If medical doctors can save lives through surgery, trees can also be saved by foresters and ordinary people through the technology called “tree surgery.”

Imelda Ngaloy, study leader of the tree rehabilitation and tree surgery of the Watershed and Water Resource Research Center (WWRRC) said from 2008 to 2014, there were 33 century old trees and trees which are considered as endangered.

In 2008, the National Power Corporation- Binga, Itogon, Benguet caused the surgery of 22 century old narra trees at the village park.

In 2010, the municipality of Tublay in Benguet sought for the surgery of a century old Dita tree, belonging to the alstonia specie of trees. In the traditional Chinese medicine, the dried leaves of the dita tree are used as an expectorant and used to treat malaria in other countries.

Ngaloy related that according to stories of townfolks, the Dita tree which underwent surgery was used by early inhabitants in rituals where heads of enemies killed during hunting were hanged.

In 2011, Tublay municipality sought for the surgery of an African tulip tree. Ngaloy described the tree to be huge with only a small part of the bark remaining on its lower trunk, allowing a person standing to get inside the tree.

In the same year, a businesswoman who owns a chain of department stores in Baguio requested surgery of three avocado trees. “She wanted the trees at her residence protected after seeing a decay on the trunk because it was producing good quality fruits,” Ngaloy related.

In 2013, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) sought the surgery of two java plum or locally called “duhat.”

At the famous Burnham Park in this city, the Eco-core society of Saint Louis University caused the surgery of three bottlebrush trees to restore them. Bottlebrush trees are among the first few trees planted along Burnham, and were among those prominently known to locals and tourists who frequent the park.

Tree surgery, she said, is an inexpensive way of restoring the lives of decaying trees. “Parang nagpa-pasta ng ngipin na nililinis ang butas at nilalagyan ng semento (it is like filling-in a decaying tooth where the cavity is cleaned and placed with cement),” she described.

It undergoes a simple procedure where the cavity of a tree is cleaned and disinfected using a fungicide coal tar. A screen is placed on the cavity where the cement can attach. An inch of the bark surrounding the cavity will then be removed to enhance the callus growth formation which must be applied with a varnish to prevent the entry of pests and diseases. As time passes, the bark closed until the cement is no longer visible, restoring the tree to good condition.

Ngaloy said “tree surgery saved century old and endangered trees to prevent them from becoming extinct.”

She said it has been noticed that during the strong typhoon Lawin, the trees that underwent surgery survived.

Record shows that the survival rate of trees subjected to tree surgery technology has a 100 percent survival rate.

Minda Odsey, chief of the technology transfer and extension services of the WWRRC said the condition of sick trees could be restored.

Trees, she said play an important role on earth not only to store water for the survival of men but also to protect the earth from harmful radiation in the environment.(PNA)LIZA T. AGOOT#


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