Rare tree species in nurseries across the Visayas, Philippines.
Rare tree species make a significant contribution to the species richness in natural tropical forests but often they are endangered. Integrating them into plantation schemes is an important option for biodiversity conservation. In the Visayas, Philippines, we surveyed tree nurseries with a focus on 20 rare native species. Including the focal species, we found a total of 138 tree species in nurseries of which 73% were natives and 25% red-listed. Comparing results with earlier nursery surveys indicated that the cultivation of native tree species in nurseries had increased which may be attributed to the National Greening Program. Native dipterocarps such as Shorea contorta and Parashorea malaanonan were frequently found. Other species however, which are rare in near-natural remnant forests of the region, were clearly under-represented (for example, Diplodiscus paniculatus and Wallaceodendron celebicum) or absent (Dracontomelon edule) in nurseries. Knowledge gaps were declared by the nursery operators and may partly have influenced the non-production of specific species. We concluded that there is already a considerable number of native tree species in the nurseries of the Visayas. This indicated increase needs for sustenance and we think that extending the National Greening Program, knowledge generation and education may play vital roles.