A hospital for ailing trees and plants

- Rose Dela Cruz -

Since its founding 30 years ago by former First Lady Imelda Marcos, the Manila Seedling Bank Foundation Inc. has evolved into a medical center for ailing trees and plants and a paradise for exotic plants and flowers and indigenous tree species.

As a medical center for trees and plants, MSBFI is equipped with the appropriate equipment, technology and experts in nursery and plantation operations, natural resources conservation and environmental management.

MSBFI opened in November 1995 its first and only doctors-clinic for tree services that include consultations and assessments during site visits for treating sick and injured trees (tree surgery), pruning/trimming, balling and transplanting big trees, tree removal and stump removal and identifying the right tree species for urban planning.

With no government funding—since after the Marcoses were removed— MSBFI survived and grew through the years through partnerships with various NGOs, private corporations, individuals, tree farmers, commercial cutflower and fruit growers and even horticultural organizations.

Its partnership with the 31-year old Philippine Horticulture Association Inc. goes beyond the annual holding of horticulture exhibits and seminars (the last of which was held Jan. 25 to Feb. 6) at the MSBFI. It also includes the propagation, exchange and promotion of new planting, breeding and cultivation technologies and cultures.

MSBFI, under its chairman/president Lucito M. Bertol has been providing livelihood to urban and rural communities by providing an outlet for the products of tree and plant farms nationwide and from its numerous activities like reforestation and plantation development, agroforestry and tree farming, production of seedlings, saplings and big trees, tree care and maintenance; balling and planting big trees; charcoal production, composting, environmental-garden center, seed center, consultancy services and research activities.

Its newest program is the production of famous and historic seedlings.

Bertol takes pride in MSBFI’s pioneering efforts in early 1980s to the “nurse climax tree” reforestation technology, a paradigm shift from the classical reforestation technique practiced by government. Under the nurse-climax tree technology, leguminous or nitrogen-fixing trees are planted side by side with climax forest tree species like ipil, acacia mangium and acacia auriculaeformis while climax trees are timber species like mahogany, narra, molave and other indigenous forest trees and fruit trees.

MSBFI has planted 14 million nurse tree seedlings and three million climax tree seedlings for the government and private sector. It has reforested 5,000 hectares of open, denuded and non productive areas of Luzon and has re-greened through contract reforestation 13,000 hectares for MWSS, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Power Corp. and Meralco located at La Mesa Dam, Marikina Watershed, Bataan and Montalban.

“We are no longer just a series of nurseries and greenhouses. We are a full-fledged tree farming, plant care and service center since we also do emergency operations on trees to save them from further decay,” Bertol said.

For the last 12 years, MSBFI served institutions and individuals such as golf clubs, homes and subdivisions and memorial gardens within and out of Metro Manila.

“We will continue to help bring back the ecological balance of planet earth,” he concluded.









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