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Almaciga Resin 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years ago
The Almaciga Tree (Agathis philippinensis)
Will it be extinct?
 By Esther Kim


Description and Rationale


The Almaciga (Agathis philippensis) is one of the few species of conifers that can grow in the humid tropics. In the Philippines, Almaciga grows in almost all mountainous forests, but most particularly in Quezon, Zambales, Palawan, Cagayan, Abra, Kalinga Apayao, Nueva Vizcaya, Samar, Zamboanga and Davao. Almaciga, which can grow up to sixty meters tall with a trunk of three meters wide, produces valuable resin that can be used as a source of income for the many rural people in the Philippines. One of the country's leading export, the Almaciga tree is endangered by excessive tapping of the resin and destructive methods carried on by people.


Is there a better method of attaining the resin from the tree rather than tapping? What better methods can be taught? How can the Almaciga tree grow faster while producing excessive resin? Is there any chemical or substance that can help the tree grow more abundantly? Are there any other trees that have some similar aspects of the Almaciga tree? Is there any other tree that can be equally used as the Almaciga tree and have equal benefits to the people?


Does the Almaciga tree have other useful features that can be used as an advantage to the people? People in the Philippines seem to just use the resin and burn or throw the rest of the tree away. Can the tree’s wide trunk be useful? Can people make useful house furniture like tables and chairs with it? Or can they make small boats or paddles out of it? Many Filipinos seem to wrap their food with leaves, if so, can people use the Almaciga’s leaf for wrapping food? Aside from making varnishes, lacquer, soap, paint, printing inks, linoleum, shoe polish, floor wax, caulking boats, torches, plastic, water proofing materials, paper sizing, can the Almaciga tree be used as an ingredient in foods? If both beneficial uses and ways of raising the tree are found, what would be the best way of communicating the findings to the people living along the trees?


The initial purpose of this project will be to research the biology and ecology of the Almaciga tree found in the Philippines, through a search of the literature as well as firsthand observations, interviews with people living among the trees and possibly interviews with experts on the topic. These findings will help guide the experimental phase, where key variables in the Almaciga tree’s survivability and usefulness will be further explored.


It is hoped that the new uses and ways of raising the Almaciga tree will be of great benefit to the people in the Philippines. Also that it will prevent the Almaciga tree from being extinct.

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Common Names and Synonyms


In the world trade, Agathis philippinensis is also known as kauri and Manila copal in the world market. This is simply because it produces valuable resin. Other synonyms include Agathis regia Warb, almaciga (Filipino), dammar (Malay), Indonesian kauri, mountain agathis, and Amboina pitch tree.




Kingdom: Plantae (plants)

Phylum: Tracheophyta (vascular plants)

Class: Coniferopsida (conifers)

Order: Coniferales (cone)

Family: Araucariaceae (evergreen trees)

Genus: Agathis (gymnosperm)

Species: A. philippinensis (coniferous evergreen tree)



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Morphology and Physical Description




The tree can grow up to 60 m tall and 6 m wide. A young tree is pointy in shape until it reaches its maturity. When it is an adult tree, its crown becomes more round in shape. 

The tree’s bark is smooth, thick and colored light gray to reddish that usually peels into irregular flakes that become thicker on more mature trees. As the tree is growing, its branches stretch horizontally upwards.


The tree’s juvenile leaves can grow up to 3 cm wide to 7 cm long. They are shaped oval with an acute tip. On the other hand, the adult leaves can grow up to 2 cm wide to 5 cm long and are dark green, leathery, narrow, and have a round tip. Additionally, they contain petioles (leafstalk) of 3-8mm long. Juvenile leaves are larger than those of the adult leaves.


Being a vascular plant, the tree develops naked seeds known as gymnosperms (seeds that are not enclosed in female tissue). It produces both male and female cones that contain numerous spirally arranged scales of 23-32mm long and 35-45mm wide. Male pollen cones appear usually only in larger trees after the female seed cones have appeared. The male cone can grow to 2.5cm long and has sacs of 3-6pollen in them. Female cone itself can grow up to 12cm long and has a globular shape. Seeds that are produced from it can grow up to 1.3cm long.


Internally, the philippinensis produces two kinds of resin. The first kind of resin, which is the ground or fossil resin, is an amber (yellowish-brown) colored resin that is developed in the roots. The other kind of resin is called the surface or tapped resin. This white resin, that has a soft texture, grows inside the inner bark of the tree. This resin is soluble in alcohol. 



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Getting Food


Similar to many plants, the philippinensis have “factories” to manufacture their food. These factories are leaves. Before the leaves produce food for the plant, they take carbon dioxide and water from its surrounding air and ground. From these two substances, with the help of sunlight, the leaves carry out photosynthesis; a process of plants making food by itself.

As a food “factory” needs machines, the leaves also need machines. The machines of the leaf are little green bodies called “chloroplasts.” Chloroplasts are green because they contain a green matter called “chlorophyll” in them, which attracts the sun’s energy. Sunlight is used as the machines power. It gives the plant energy for the functions to produce food. During this process known as photosynthesis, sunlight and water produces glucose and oxygen for the plant.





Environmental Factors


The philippinensis grows in both pre-humid tropical rainforests and monsoonal semi-evergreen rainforest. It grows at a range of 450-2,200m altitude that corresponds to the whole range of climatic conditions in the Philippines. Also, it grows near sea level of about 2500m elevation, and in lowlands they are found on various substrates. The tree grows in soil with a pH range between 5 and 6. 


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Origin and Distribution


The philippinensis is originally from the Philippines, Sulawesi and Halmahera. It grows in the upland tropical rainforest at 450-2,200m altitude and rarely as low as 250m in northern Luzon.

Although the tree is originally from these three specific countries, it is also found from Peninsular Malaysia to New Zealand, including Malesia, New Guinea, Melanesia and Australia. Their range extends from 10°30' N to 38° S, and from 96° E to 180° E.


Importance to People


People who live near the philippinensis take advantage of this tree for it provides a great deal of income. The philippinensis, which produces resin, could be made into many materials that are worth selling.


“Almaciga resin is used in the manufacture of varnishes, lacquer, soap, paint, printing inks, linoleum, shoe polish, floor wax, plastic, water proofing materials, paper sizing and many other

products. Locally, it is used as incense in religious ceremonies, as fuel, torches, caulking substances and smudge for mosquitoes.” 

(http://www.pinoynegosyo.blogspot.com/2006/12/production-of-almaciga  -resin.html)


Also, the species bark is a good timber that could be used in manufacturing other useful materials like boats and pencil. Although this tree is of great worth, many people have been destructively treating the species. It is now in great danger and is becoming fewer and fewer each year. 


Survivability and Endangered Status


The resilience of the philippinensis is vulnerable. Now, these species are protected from the government and are in great concern due to excessive logging and destructive methods of tapping. The destructive methods of tapping include scrapping the tree too much and also tapping too deep that result in killing the tree. Researchers have found that the tree is slowly heading towards its extinction.   

If no beneficial way of saving the tree is found, it will greatly affect the poor people who fully depend on it. The resin produced from the tree is also greatly known in the world market. If the tree results in being extinct, the trade market will also be affected. 


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Potential Solutions





The Almaciga tree (Agathis philippinensis), being one of Philippine’s greatest income, is endangered. The tree produces valuable resin that can be made in to various products. People have been continuously tapping the tree carelessly for the resin. Even though most of the Almaciga tree is banned from the government now, people are still carrying out destructive tapping methods. Many scientists and other individuals have experimented on developing a better tapping process and resulted in finding one. Unfortunately though, only few people are aware of it. If the new technique spreads, it will stop the tree from being extinct and will be beneficial to the people. With more research, I found possibilities of the benefits along with an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages for each.  


Possibility 1


Possibility 1- Training Program

Providing a place were people can come and learn the new tapping process by experts is probably the most effective way of saving the tree and benefiting to the people.




                     1. People can feel, observe, and see for themselves the new tapping process. They will learn more quickly and effectively.

                     2. While learning the new process, if people have questions, they can ask the expert questions in person. They will learn more about the tree and recognize its importance. 




                     1. It will cost a lot of money to build a suitable place where the Almaciga tree can grow. A mass of land will be needed.

                     2. To start the training program, a lot of preparation has to be taken place. Experts have to team up and develop a way of explaining the new process.

                     3. As the Almaciga tree is planted, it will take a lot of time for it to grow to be tapped for resin.



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Possibility 2


Possibility 2- Brochure The most important action is to let the people know about the Almaciga tree. Making a brochure with the tree’s information and distributing it to the Filipinos will allow them to be aware of the tree.





                   1) Brochures are easy to make and does not take much time. Many copies can be made and be distributed to many people.

                   2) People can carry the brochure around and refer back to it anytime if need it. 




                   1) It is hard to go to certain places and hand out the brochure. Certain people will be limited from attainting the brochure. 

                   2) I will never find out if people have been affected by the brochure and are starting to get involved with saving the tree.




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Possibility 3


Possibility 3 – Store of Almaciga resin products

Why not open a store and sell the products produced by the Almaciga resin?





                 1) People who buy the products will naturally learn about the tree and will recognize its importance.

                 2) The store needs a factory that produces the products. In the factory, Filipinos can be hired and earn money.

                 3) Money made from the store can be donated to the poor Filipinos who live among the Almaciga tree. This will provide them

                         with food and will result them in tapping the tree less.




                1) Money needs to be invested to build a store with its factory. Most Filipinos are poor and will not have enough money.

                2) Huge amounts of resin will be needed in the factory each year. This will mean more tapping.





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Christopher J. Earle. “Agathis.” The Gymnosperm Database. 30 May 2007. 12 April 2008. <http://www.conifers.org/ar/ag/index.html>.

Lacuna-Richman, Celeste. Personal Interview. 1 May 2008.

Saturnina C. Halos. “The Vanshing Almaciga of Samar, Philippines.” FAO Corporate Document Repository. 12 April 2008. <http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/l7530e/L7530E01.htm>.

“Agathis philippinensis.” AgroForestryTree Database. 12 April 2008. <http://www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/sea/Products/AFDbases/af/asp/SpeciesInfo.asp?SpID=18045>.

“Agathis philippinensis.” IUCN Red list of Threatened Species. 1998. 12 April 2008. http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/details.php/37560/summ>.

“Economic Botany.” BioOne. Sept. 2004. 12 April 2008.


“Inducement of Almaciga resin production through ethrel application.” Forest Products Research and Development Institute. 14 April 2008.              


“Material Name:resin.” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 11 March 2007. 12 April 2008. <http://cameo.mfa.org/browse/record.asp?subkey=7913>.

“Production of Almaciga Resin.” Pinoy-Negosyo-Techs. 28 April 2007. 12 April 2008. <http://www.pinoynegosyo.blogspot.com/2006/12/production-of-almaciga-resin.html>.

“Vascular Plants Described.” CliffsNotes. 12 April 2008. <http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/CliffsReviewTopic/Vascular-Plants-Described.topicArticleId-8741,articleId-8672.html>.



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