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Once completed, the 67,000-capacity clonal nursery currently under construction on the grounds of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Bicutan, Taguig City, will boost to the National Greening Program (NGP).

This was stressed by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, adding that the initial seedlings that would be produced by the nursery will be used to green Metro Manila.

On April 12, 2012, Paje, together with DOST Secretary Mario G. Montejo, led the groundbreaking ceremony for the 1.12-hectare DENR-DOST clonal nursery situated inside the DOST compound in Taguig City.

According to Paje, the DENR will fund the nursery construction estimated to cost around P3.8 million. He also committed an additional P8 million for its initial operation this year.

DENR-National Capital Region Executive Director Nilo Tamoria said the clonal nursery will be equipped with state of the art facilities to include a laboratory where the processing of cuttings take place, including the application of rooting hormones; a rooting propagation house where cuttings are being rooted either in hiko trays, plastic boxes on benches or bed; a recovery house or chamber, an area with controlled environment and where newly harvested rooted potted seedlings are placed to allow gradual recovery and development of roots and shoots.

It will also have pot beds which will serve as the hardening area, where the new seedlings are gradually exposed to higher light intensity; an sterilization facility; a potting area; and a water storage area.

The nursery construction is expected to be completed in June, and will be operational by the last quarter of the year. During its initial operation, the nursery will be producing at least 5,000 quality seedlings for use in the urban greening of Metro Manila.

By next year, however, Paje said, seedling production will be increased to its maximum capacity of 67,500 seedlings.

DOST Secretary Montejo said the clonal nursery will initially make use of the diverse trees and plants currently growing within its 32-hectare compound in raising planting stocks, numbering around 65 species.

Montejo said that among the popular trees found in the compound include Adelfa, African tulip, Agoho, Alasiis, Alibangbang, Almaciga, Amugis, American kapok, Antipolo, Antsoan dilaw, Bagras, Balibitan, Banaba, Big leaf Mahogany, Duhat, Earpod, Fire tree, Golden shower, Himbabao, Ilang-Ilang, Indian rubber, Ipil, Kaimito, Kalamansanai, Kamachile, Kamagon, Lumbang, Mangium, Molave, Neem tree, Philippine teak, Prickley Narra, Rain tree, Red gum, Smooth Narra, Talisai, Yemane and Thailand shower.

By virtue of Executive Order No. 26 issued last year, President Aquino launched the National Greening Program, which seeks to rehabilitate some 1.5 million hectares of the country’s open, denuded and degraded areas with the planting of at least 1.5 billion trees by the end of his term in 2016.

“Given the condition of the planting sites as well as the need to ensure higher survival rate for the planted seedlings, the quality of the planting stocks must be such that they could withstand adverse impact of transplantation from the nursery environment to the planting site,” Paje said.

Seedlings raised in a clonal nursery, said Paje, are of better quality not only in terms of their root system as they produced either through macro-somatic or tissue culture but also because they are derived from select, quality mother trees.

Paje clarified, however, that NGP is not only an environmental program to mitigate the impact of climate change, but also is a food security and poverty alleviation program of the Aquino Administration.

“The President is urging us to plant cacao, coffee, mango and other agricultural trees in the eight million hectare of open, denuded and degraded areas throughout the country to provide livelihood and income for our upland people, estimated to number around 30 million,” he said.