By: Juan L. Mercado

Will the pork barrel scam spiral into a march by the millions next week? The uproar shoved to back burners other equally critical issues from “nutritional black holes” to loss of keystone species.

He who plants trees benefits another generation.” After 12 years of below-radar-screen efforts, research has paid off. Another rare tree in Cebu won international recognition. But “Cynometra  Cebuensis” is critically endangered.

Journal “Blumea” declared the tree as “scientifically described” on Nov. 24 last year. The decision appeared on the Net this month.

This brings island-endemic tree species to three,” notes botanist Franz Siedenschwarz who tracked cynometra from seed to fruit bearing. All three cluster within Tabunan forest slivers. “Germany has zero endemic tree species.”

Cynometra Cebu bears no local name, unlike the other two. Discovered in 1922, “Arthrophyllum cenabrei” is named “Bingliu” – the area where it sprouted. “Cinnamomum cebuense Kostermans”, recognized in 1986, is called “Kalingag” in Visayan.

Degraded habitats and limited numbers will insert Cynometra Cebu into “Critically Endangered” tables of the 2001 “Red List” by International Union for Conservation of Nature.

A University of Munich graduate, Seidenschwarz led University of San Carlos Botany Research Group.  Fluent in Cebuano, he authored various studies, including: “Plant World of the Philippines – An Illustrated Dictionary of Visayan Plants.”

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