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Cordillera Project Plants Petroleum To Save Trees, Lessen Global Warming – OpEd

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A Philippine project based in the Cordillera  region is planting petroleum to save trees  and help lessen climate change especially global warming.

The project, by the Cordillera Ecological Center  (CEC) known as PINE TREE, trains rural people to plant the tree Pittosporum resineferum, an alkane oil-rich tree that makes in only 5-6 years, petroleum which otherwise would have taken millions of years.

Pittosporum resineferum

Pittosporum tree known as petroleum nut, is native to the Philippines particuarly in the provinces  of Benguet, Mountain Province, Abra, Ifugao and Kalinga. It is also found in the Bicol region and som parts of Mindanao.

CEC said the tree’s fruits are rich in  hydrocarbon oils – 70 percent heptane, 22 percent mrycene and 18 percent dihydroterpene. Fifty kg of fresh fruits yield almost a liter of flammable oil. One tree matures in 5-6 years and can yield 500 kg of fruits on its severnth year, an older tree can yield as much as 1000 kg.

It is difficult to grow the tree, CEC was able to expertly mass-rear the trees after two years research with financial  aid from Toyota Enviroment Award.

Sustainable Fuel, Forest Saver

CEC has proven  that the tree’s oil can replace fossil fuel for cooking, lighting, heating and drying in rural areas where there is no electricity and where fossil fuel like LPG and kerosene are expensive.

Three to five trees can sustain the fuel needs of one family. A forest of Pittosporum  can supply a community.

”When  people plant the tree , harvest the oil and use it for energy, trees which otherwise would have been cut for firewood, are saved,” CEC said.  

”The more Pittosporum trees are planted, the more trees are saved from wood fuel stoves, CEC added.

Helping Capture  CO2, Lessen Climate Change

Pittosporum  trees are good in CO2 sequestration, asbsorbing as much as 48 lbs of CO2 every year for each mature tree because of the lignin and tannin contents of the tree which help trap CO2, CEC , said.

A forest of 1000 Pittosporom  mature trees can sequester 48000 lbs of CO2 in a year while helping recharge the atmosphere with fresh oxygen.

Efficient Fuel Stoves, Lamps

To help the farmers it  is trainining in Pittosporum raising, CEC invented a coldpress oil expeller, oil stove and oil lamp for the farmers to use, out from local materials, This has made it easier for the rural women to extract and use the oil.

The project is helping women cook safely in smoke-free kitchens, helping children study at night and lighting homes.

The project won an Echoing Green Foundation Social Entrepreneurship award in New York City.

Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan

Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan

Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan wrote for the British Panos News and Features and GEMINI News Service, the Brunei Times, and US Environment News Service. In the Philippines, he wrote for DEPTHNews of the Press Foundation of Asia, Today, the Philippine Post, and Vera Files. A practicing environmentalist, he holds postgraduate degrees in environment resource management and development studies as a European Union (EU) Fellow at University College, Dublin, Ireland. He is currently a Fellow of Echoing Green Foundation of New York City. He now writes for Business Mirror and Eurasia Review.

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