Habitat protection will preserve medicinal plants and allow them to multiply and enable experts to maximize the economic and health values of the vegetation.
Experts stressed the need to implement conservation efforts to protect and propagate medicinal plants amid climate change and other threats.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources—Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB), the principal research arm and think tank of the DENR, hosted the ASEAN Conference on Medicinal Forest Trees in Pampanga and cited their huge potential for the health of Filipinos.
Around 117 participants from the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan took part in the three-day conference.
ERDB director Maria Lourdes Ferrer said forest species studies had shown the links between nature and human health as exploited by indigenous people worldwide in treating diseases.
Ferrer stressed the need to gather and preserve indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants and forest trees given their benefits and potential for economic activity.
“As we embark on this intellectual journey, let us remember that our discoveries have the potential to touch lives, alleviate suffering and shape the course of healthcare and medicinal forest trees species conservation,” said Ferrer.
ERDB assistant director Conrado Marquez said habitat protection through active management of forests, governance with the appropriate funding allocation are vital for medicinal forest trees to adopt and become resilient to climate change.
“We are working now on a technology called tree fortification. We are trying to fortify trees in a manner that will make them more resilient to pests and to add to the viability and manageability of particular tree species,” said Marquez.
Tree fortification seeks to protect threatened tree species and increase their population. The ERDB is also doing other vegetative propagation measures such as cloning to address scarcity of species.
Dr. Pastor Malabrigo Jr., professor at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, said based on the database of medicinal species in the country, 456 tree species have known medicinal value.
“We have 3,500 tree species. It’s safe to assume that we are underutilizing our plant resources. There are rare, threatened species, the public is not familiar with, which are not being used. We have to give attention to these,” said Malabrigo.
He encouraged the event poster presenters to publish their researches on medicinal plants for people to recognize these and increase public awareness. DENR News