The Philippines has a unique geological history; it is archipelagic and rich in mineral resources. This led to the evolution of unique flora and fauna with a number of endemic species, organisms found only inÂ specific areas of the country. In fact, the Philippines has been classified as one of the mega diverse countries in the world with respect to biodiversity and ecosystems.
The country is also rich in gold, copper, nickel, lead and zinc which have been extracted even before World War II. The rich mineral resources has paved the way for the development of mining companies as well as small scale mining activities. Mining has contributed to economic development but such anthropogenic activities have environmental impacts.
The presence of these metals in the soil led to evolution of a rich genetic resource of metallophytes (plants that naturally thrive on metal enriched landscape) in the country. Hyperaccumulators (plants that can accumulate heavy metal as much as 1,000 ppm in their vegetative structures) also evolved. These plants can be utilized in post mining activities for phytostabilization, phytoremediation, phytomining and source of germplasm for breeding.
The Program for Rehabilitation and Restoration of Mined-out Areas through Phytotechnologies is a research program supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD). This is participated by three academic institutions namely: Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University and University of the Philippines-Los BaÃ±os.
The objectives of this program are a) To identify and study the bio-ecology and chemistry of indigenous metallophyte species that can be used in phytotechnologies to restore mined-out areas and 2) To develop protocols for propagating metallophyte species for use as metal bio-indicators, and for phytostabilization and post-mining metal recovery. Below are the project titles and project leaders of each institution.
Project 1: Conservation of Native Metallophytes, Phytochemistry of Nickel Hyperaccumulators, and Phytostabilization to Restore Mined-out Areas in Palawan, Surigao, and Zambales headed by Dr. Marilyn O. Quimado and Dr. Edwino S. Fernando of UP Los BaÃ±os
Project 2: Metal Bio-indicator Plant Species of the Philippines headed by Dr. Maribel Agoo G. and Dr. George V. BaÃ±ez of De La Salle University
Project 3: Copper and Arsenic Recovery as a Post-mining Activity Using Indigenous Plant Hyperaccumulators headed by Dr. Teresita Perez and Dr. Rene Juna R. Claveria of Ateneo de Manila University