Sustainable utilization of paper mulberry

PAPER mulberry tree, locally known as “lapnis,” has gained notoriety due to its invasive characteristics – forming dense thicket that threatens the existence of local and endemic species.

Specifically, the tree has been growing uncontrollably in Mount Makiling in Los Baños, Laguna, which led to the development of the project dubbed “Assessment of the Coppicing Characteristics of Lapnis (Broussonetia papyrifera) as a Strategy for its Control and Management and Sustainable Utilization for Pulp and Paper Production.”

Spearheaded by the Forest Products Research and Development Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-FPRDI), the project aims to convert juvenile paper mulberry tree into high-value handmade paper, which has been one of the most profitable handicraft products of many neighboring countries.

Paper mulberry is classified as a large shrub or a small tree with a soft and brittle wood, and was introduced in the country during the early 1930s as a reforestation species and as an alternative source of fiber.

It can grow fast and spread easily via seed dispersal, primarily through birds and other animals that eat the fruit.

The DOST-FPRDI said this study will provide information on the utilization of juvenile paper mulberry tree as source of alternative raw materials for the handmade paper industry, and an additional source of livelihood for the local communities where these plants abound.

By converting the tree species into paper products, its further spread and invasiveness can be controlled and managed.

The project is funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).

It is expected to develop at least five paper products and two processes on harvesting and processing juvenile paper mulberry tree trunks, among others.

The project is expected to run until March 2021 and will be closely monitored by DOST-PCAARRD.

In a related development, a science-based approach is being used in a project conserving indigenous forest trees at the Mount Makiling Forest Reserve (MMFR).

The project initiated by the College of Forestry and Natural Resources of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB-CFNR) and dubbed “Germplasm conservation of select indigenous forest trees in MMFR” is led by Dr. Lerma SJ. Maldia, Assistant Professor in the Department of Forest Biological Science of UPLB-CFNR.

The genetic resources of a country are important assets, hence, their use and conservation must be established.

Conservation is fundamental to the sustainable and productive management of the forest ecosystem in which they occur.

With funding from the DOST-PCAARRD, the project team was able to select and geo-tag a total of 312 mother trees of 29 species as potential sources of superior quality seeds for germplasm conservation.

The phenology patterns of these species were observed, and the team also collected and characterized seeds of selected species before developing the nursery that will provide quality planting materials for tree planting and reforestation activities.

More than 9,000 seedlings were also propagated and planted and more than 6,000 seedlings were distributed to local government units and non-government organizations. ([email protected]/PN)

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