Does a tree that can repair degraded land, heal damaged skin and provide an important source of energy sound too good to be true? Think again.
The oil from the tamanu tree, or nyamplung tree as it’s known locally on the islands of Java, Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia, has been used for centuries as a salve for wounds and scars. Now, scientists from the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and Environment’s Research and Development Agency (FORDA), Indonesia’s Mulawarman University, Sriwijaya University, Muhammadiyah University and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) want to find out how it heals degraded land that has been burned or mined – and simultaneously contribute to bioenergy production.
“Nyamplung has been proven to be able to grow and adapt well in burned areas with fertilizer treatment,” said Budi Leksono, an official with FORDA, in a recent ministry report titled Proven, Potential Bioenergy Plants Developed for Restoration of Degraded Land. “Even more, the exciting finding shows that the tree has begun to flower and bear fruit two years after planting and it brings in several species of birds and insects…which indicate an increase in biodiversity in the ecosystem.”
Experimental plantations that have been cultivated on degraded lands since 2017 in the provinces of Central Java and 2011 in Central and East Kalimantan are inspiring optimism. The tamanu tree is demonstrating an ability to restore and improve former forests and peatlands that have been burned or wounded by industry, overuse or deforestation.