• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Dokkio Sidebar (from the makers of PBworks) is a Chrome extension that eliminates the need for endless browser tabs. You can search all your online stuff without any extra effort. And Sidebar was #1 on Product Hunt! Check out what people are saying by clicking here.


Teak Tree 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 4 months ago
Teak Tree - Endangered Trees in the Philippines



By Joseph Lee 

Description and Rationale


     Teak trees are common to south and southeastern portions of Asia, where there are lush monsoon forest vegetation. Teak is known as the “Father of all woods” because of its strength, and is highly demanded material for a country’s industries. Unlike before, the widespread cutting and marketing of the Teak tree resulted in pushing the Teak tree to the endangered level.

    What are the impacts to people if the Teak tree becomes extinct? Does it harm other living organisms such as animals and plants? How much of the process of reforestation with the Teak tree will be unavailable? How much is Teak tree useful compared to other lumbers? Is it famous just because it is strong to make good furniture? Or is it because the Teak tree is common that people do not care about its extinction?

     Might there be an alternate ways to make furniture as well as conserving the Teak trees? Recent research showed that the threats to Teak trees mostly relate to the marketing between people. Lumberjacks have cut down enormous amounts of Teak trees in Philippines to trade both legally and illegally. Some people’s perspective showed that the rate of losing Teak trees are nearly the same as losing the tropical rainforest in Philippines. Why do the people not recognize the crucial point of extinction? Do they actually know that losing trees affects whole lot of things? Or is it just money is everything for them? If the conservation of Teak tree is persistent and active, there might be a benefit to both human and animals. Also, there would be more trees for the project of reforestation not only in Philippines but also in Indonesia, Indo-China, Costa Rica, and many other places. What would be the best way to persuade people in Philippines to prevent the loss of Teak trees?

     The initial purpose of this project will be to research more about the biology and ecology of Teak trees that are produced in Philippines. The process of research will include interviewing lumberjacks, workers at wood shops, and learning about other Philippine trees comparing to Teak tree. These initial processes will help to discover the cause of the Teak tree extinction and the process of preventing the extinction. Teak tree’s usefulness and effectiveness will be thoroughly explored as researching the initial processes.

     It is hoped that alternate ways of conserving and making furniture will help prevent Teak tree extinction and save many other animals and plants that are being harmed by the disappearance of Teak trees in Philippines.



table of contents...



Common Names and Synonyms


     Tectona grandis is also called the “Teak” in most countries. The teak tree’s scientific name Tectona grandis was originally from the Portuguese name Teca. The word Teca came from Greek word Tekton which means “a carpenter” and from Latin word Grandis which means “large.” Other synonyms include Pepper Coast (Arabs); Kyoon (Myanmar); and Tectona philippinensis (Philippine). Locally, Tectona philippinensis is called Malabayabas.




Kingdom: Plantae

Phylum:   Magnoliophyta (Vascular plants)

Class:      Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)

Order:     Lamiales (dicotyledonous flowering plants)

Family:    Verbenaceae (mint bearing)

Genus:    Tectona (tropical hardwood trees)

Species:  T. grandis (common teak)

               T. hamiltoniana (Dahat teak)

               T. philippinensis (Philippine teak)


    Dahat teak and Philippine teak are endangered species in these countries, although many people continue to buy teak trees from endangered areas. As a result of being endangered, many countries now use the common term, “Teak tree” for all three species in because they share the same characteristics.


table of contents...


Morphology and Physical Description


     Teak trees can grow more than 30~45 m in height and the trunks can grow to about 3~5 ft. in diameter. When they are fully matured at about 60~80 years, they produce wood that is strong and hard. Research showed that about 40 years of age is a good period of time to cut down this tree because the quality of the wood is better. Teak trees have a simple root system, thick fibers and solid wood, which makes it easier for people to cut and form different kinds of furniture. Older teak trees are best for furniture for it is harder and more durable than fast-growing young trees. The color of the Teak tree’s bark varies between pale brown and gray.


      The tree contains rough, wide leaves which can grow up to 60cm in length in young age. The leaves fall in dry season, as it is deciduous tree. It can lose its leaves in seasonal cycles or as the result of insect invasion. The leaves grow in pairs, forming large and strong leaves diagonally to the next to each other. The branches contain enormous amounts of little white flowers around its wood. Additionally, the scented flowers have 5~6 petals and its decorativeness results from being eaten by insects. Not all of the leaves survive for the entire growing season.


     The teak tree has two interesting and unique characteristics compared with other normal trees. First, the naturally made oil inside its resin protects the tree from rottenness types, tree (wood) dwelling insects or moths, and bacterial infection. Second, because of its unique natural oil, this allows the fully matured grown woods to become resistant in all weathers and have less splitting of the wood. These two distinctive characteristics and its special aroma that is different from other woods make teak wood desirable for making furniture and business uses such as trading, buying, and selling between companies.



table of contents...


Getting Food


     T. grandis are producers (autotrophs), which start all food chains. Thus, they obtain energy from the cycle process called photosynthesis, most common for all kingdom plantae. Some researchers believe that nitrogen-fixing trees in the same area help the growth rate of the teak trees. Teak trees also obtain calcium content from soil, one of the important factors of obtaining food. If the soil is absent with calcium, it results in underdeveloped growth of the tree. The best soil pH for teak tree is between 6.5 and 7.5.




     The teak trees reproduce through the same process as other plants, which is pollination. Since the first life cycle of the tree is seeds, they go through a process of cell division, leading to an embryo, and growing of seeds. Recently, teak trees are being reproduced by people who are participating in reforesting. People sow teak tree’s seed, take cares of them about 25~30 years, and when the tree is young enough to be taken out, people gather the plants and replant them in damaged forests for reproducing of teak trees as well as reforesting the damaged forests. Below is the table of estimated number of plantation in several sub region areas.



Environmental Factors


     The name, Tectona grandis itself shows the characteristic of the teak tree. As mentioned earlier, it is strong and durable tree out of all trees. It adapts well to each season, as well as gaining persistent of its strength and durability during dry season. Teak trees also have the ability to repel insects and cure diseases such as headaches, stomach problems, and digestive problems. For this reason, environmentalists tend to use teak trees for reforesting projects for more production of trees. Additionally, it is difficult to buy Teak seeds locally in Philippines. Similar to other countries, companies tend to sell young, immature teak trees instead of seeds. Costa Rica is in major process of reforesting forests for more trees and shelters for endangered animals. It is believed that with the extinction of teak tree, the oak tree will be next target for exploiting and will again result in destruction of natures.

Teak grows best in equatorial regions where it has frequent rainfalls or all year consistent temperature. These trees can be found mostly in riverbanks and lush monsoon forest vegetation areas. Teak’s growth depends on the depth, structure, porosity, drainage, and moisture-holding capacity of the soil.


table of contents...



Origin and Distribution


     It was in China that the teak tree was introduced. Chinese people bury teak logs in moist soil for years to build many strong ships. These building skills were learned by Britain later on. The teak tree is also native throughout South and Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia. Indonesia produces a high quality of teak tree woods compared to other countries that produce similar woods. The characteristics of this wood introduced a worldwide effect in marketing businesses to many countries. Due to the durability and quality of the wood, many countries tend to buy teak woods for good furniture and many other materials for people’s better living. It is also distributed through the damaged forests in several countries. Countries like the Philippines and Costa Rica are in the process of reforesting their countries by using teak trees. Thus, through businesses and projects, teak trees are now globally known as having the best quality of all trees.


Importance to People


     Developing countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, and the Philippines use a lot of teak trees for construction supplies. The tree’s resin have a special natural oil and Silica in its cambium that allows the wood to be used in environmentally exposed areas such as moist and dry areas. This natural oil also helps teak wood furniture to last long without any oil or varnish treatments. Additionally, this ingredient is also one of the reasons that the wood can be easily formed into different shapes. During the period of maturity, this oil also supports the tree’s strength, providing nutrients to its inner roots.

Teak trees are needed worldwide in making furniture. Decks of expensive ships are mostly made with Teak woods. However, teak woods are not only used to make furniture but also are used in medical treatments. In the Philippines, people use the blood red juices from the leaves to reduce headaches, for digestive problems, and to solve stomach problems. However, being an endangered species leads the people to have a hard time gathering the red juices as the tree is being protected by the government.

     Some Filipino suggests reducing the extinction of teak trees by reforesting and taking care of teak trees and woods by substituting other woods like maple woods that are good in making products. This implies that extinction leads to less production of material. People in Philippines are actually recognizing the importance of teak trees to their livelihood and to environments.


Survivability and Endangered Status


     Although there are still huge amounts of teak trees around the world, teak trees in the Philippines have been declared as an endangered species. Philippine teak produces valuable timber, supporting both local and national construction. Builders in the Philippines prefer young, immature teak trees in construction, which results in preventing the reproduction of teak trees. They also use teak tree as firewood, which destroys the environment as well. The destruction of habitats and over-exploitation of wood caused the Philippines to reduce teak wood into endangered level. Teak trees in the Philippines are only known in Batangas, Illing, Ambulong, South Luzon, and Mindoro Island. However, recently, people say that teak in Philippine provinces are mostly found in damaged forest edges surrounded by rural lands and degraded forests.



table of contents...





Potential Solutions


     How much of teak trees in forests are degrading in Philippines these days? The governments have already announced the law that it is illegal to cut down teak trees without the government’s authorization. Many people living in squatter areas are cutting down teak trees without any permission from government. The lumberjacks are also cutting down only young, immature trees for construction, products, and many other goods. These actions by local people had lead the teak tree into endangered status and now only exists in islands and provincial areas. However, recently, several provincial areas have started the project of reforesting by using teak trees as well as saving teak trees. Yet, many of the local governments have not participated in reforesting projects because of the high costs and time endurances. Despite of having several problems to initiate the project, below are a number of possible solutions in order to gain success in saving teak tree species and reforesting the country’s forests.


Possibility 1


     Many of our furniture are made out of teak wood. Most of the people do not consider reusing the teak furniture but rather throw away. Such as an empty house made of teak wood or long used teak furniture are being thrown away without any further usage. I found out that you can reuse the teak wood and keep it on tip top condition as it looks like new teak wood. People who reuse the teak wood use the method of washing, drying, sanding, and optionally, oiling in order to change the old teak wood into high conditioned wood. Also, there are some groups of people who buys abandoned house and sell the wood (of the house) to other companies. If teak woods can be reused, then why not reuse them and minimize the teak wood products and conserve them?





     ①. Teak wood reuse means less affording of teak woods from lumber sellers. This means the companies will no longer consider the teak wood as a selling product. Thus, resulting in less teak wood degrading will lead into conservation of teak wood and conserve the remaining forests with teak trees.

     ②. Realizing the amazing characteristics of teak wood by reusing them. Not much of effort is needed to treat teak wood because of its natural oil. People can realize the unique things about teak wood and value them highly. Valuing teak woods highly will let people think before they throw away any teak furniture. By knowing how to reuse teak wood, people will also conserve their money as well as not wasting new teak woods.




     ①. The quality of wood can differ from the new brand teak wood. It could have less natural oil by the process of washing them, or it can have more holes compared to new teak wood. It might not last long than other new teak woods.

     ②. Less production will be harder for people to find teak wood production. By lessening the product, not many people will be able to notice the unique characteristics of real teak trees.



table of contents...


Possibility 2


     In Philippines, builders and carpenters prefer young and immature teak trees in construction. This cycle of buying the immature teak wood and cutting down young, immature teak wood results in preventing reproduction of teak trees. I was thinking then, how about we normal people can buy teak trees or seeds (even at least one tree) and plant them in forests or garden and reproduce teak trees.




     ①. There would be more teak trees for reforesting in Philippines and more teak trees growing places. Preventing cutting down young teak trees but to keep growing them will at least increase the teak tree population in Philippines.

     ②. People who plants teak trees by themselves (or in their private space) can observe how teak trees grow and learns how to keep them. Not only for themselves, but they can even teach others how growing teak trees is like.




     ①. The high cost of teak tree prevents a single person from buying a group of teak seeds or trees. Not many of people are rich here in Philippines, which means that not many of them can buy a single teak tree or seed for plantation.

     ②. There should be suitable gardens, lots, or forests in Philippines. Batangas, South Luzon, Illing, and Mindoro Island are the only places known in Philippines for teak trees production. It needs a lot of cooperation by person to person in order to make environments in other places in Philippines to change it cleaner than before.

     ③. It would need wide space to grow teak tree and planting in the same area raises the competition between teak trees.


table of contents...


Possibility 3


     My investigation result in unavailable of finding Teak trees, or I might say, none of the people did have Teak trees in their garden. Teak woods can be found around Manila and other places. However, it was hard to find a single teak tree in Manila area. Some wood shops did not even treat teak wood as their product but other woods such as mahogany, maple, and oak. I was thinking how I could share information about the importance of teak wood and its unique characteristics so that the people will consider seriously about the degrading of teak trees in Philippines. It is known that students and nearby residents in Illing and Ambulong island are planting native trees despite of having heavy rain and this project is known as “Mission Possible.”

     After all gathering this information, I suddenly come up with a plan: to share this information to local people to think about the teak trees. My actions were taken as written below:


     ①. I made printed pages describing the teak tree’s characteristics, why it is important to us, and how far is endangered in Philippines. It is same copy as my research paper although it is slightly adjusted to Philippine reading skills.

     ②. First, I invited a pastor and his assistant to the conversation. I ask them to share the information I told them to other public places or in other job their taking. Pastor and his helper had a lot of interest in this project. They both agreed to share the information as much as they can to other places.


     ③. I then made a multiple copies of information and stapled them together. After stapling the papers, I went out in several areas, giving the papers person to person by briefly explaining the endangered status and emphasizing to conserve teak wood furniture and reuse them. 

table of contents...

     ④. This time, instead of meeting person to person, I went house by house just putting the papers inside the mail box or gate. (Location was in Pasig, Cainta, and Makati).


     People did not seriously take what I have explained to them. They just wanted to do what they were doing, instead of listening to me. Some people even threw away the paper after I was walking away from them. I think this project is difficult for one person to do it, but requires other organizations to participate in the same project as I did.




     ①. Christians know the amazing things that God has created. God gave us (Adam and Eve) to take care of things on the land. God had planned everything beforehand for us. By knowing the importance of at least one of God’s creation, will further realize other important impacts that God has done fore us. People will not just use Teak wood and throw it away but they would regard as using one of God’s creation is important thing or destroying God’s creation is against God’s will.

     ②. People will understand better about teak trees and at least know that it is seriously an endangered species in Philippines. Then, they will consider reusing them and conserve them.




     ①. Not many people will learn about teak wood since this project is just minor in an area. Not many people are rich living in local areas such as Greenland, Valle Verde, Buendia, Makati Avenue, and Burgos Street. They use every material to live on, whether it is good or bad.

     ②. Based on the action steps I have done, there needs to be more projects involved relating to this project. Out of five wood sellers, only one knew about teak tree, and about out of ten people, only two to three persons knew about teak tree. The project needs the participation of several different companies, politics initiations, and government efforts. It may take enormous amounts of time in order to teach many people about teak trees and other endangered species with high costs for educations.

     ③. Not many people are involved into replanting projects because of its high cost and rarity. When I asked some people why don’t they care about teak trees, they generally said that it is because they won’t be able to afford teak trees and keep them and it is hard to find them either. This implies that if people do not know the importance of teak trees to us, they will simply forget teak trees in their mind and treat it as simple garbage.





“History of Teak Wood.” Zilver.multiply.com. 03 May 2008.



“Madulid, D.A. and Agoo, E.M. (1990). Conservation status of Tectona philippinensis.” A threatened Philippine plant. Acta Manilana 38:41-55


Madonna, Virola. “Islanders save the Philippine Teak.” Inquirer Souther Luzon

 29 April 2008.



Roj, Pastor Marfil. Personal Interview. 03 May 2008.


“Teak Tree.” Indianetzone.com. 02 May 2008.



“Tectona grandis.” Wikipedia.org. 04 May 2008.



“Tectona grandis.” Carbonequity.com. 29 April 2008.



“Tectona philippinensis.” Globaltrees.org. 02 May 2008.



“Tectona philippinensis.” Zipcodezoo.com. 04 May 2008.



“Teak forestry.” Panamaforestry.com. 04 May 2008.





table of contents...

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.