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An inventory of tree species diversity in and around gold-mined areas in a montane village in Cagayan De Oro City, Philippines.


A protected environment has always been a foundation of a healthy and prosperous society. However, because of man's ignorance of the role of the environment to achieve these, natural disasters befell man. Poverty, famine brought by natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, and landslides have led to loss of lives and properties. It has greatly affected the social and economic growth of many affected countries like the Philippines. The country for example, was reported home to the 5% of the world's flora with a high number of plant species ranging from 10,000-14,000 species. Plants play a major role in the environment not only absorbing heat and release water vapour to maintain temperature [1, 2] by increasing humidity in the environment [3] but also prevents soil erosion [4, 5] and increases soil fertility [6]. The country was ranked 5th worldwide in terms of plant diversity [7] but as the country is also a hotspot for threatened forest tree species due to anthropogenic habitat alteration [8]. Mining and logging were among the major contributors behind the country's loss of forest cover [9]. Small-scale gold mining (SSGM) activities for example which play a crucial role in poverty alleviation and rural development in the Philippines, contributed to destruction of many forest areas in the country [10]. One example is a village in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines where the use of hydraulic equipment which flushes the soil or waiting for the rain to wash tilled soil to leave gold particles behind have caused a lot of erosions resulting to remarkable changes in physical appearance of the land cover [11]. It is the major interest of this study to determine the impact of mining over existing diversity of trees in the area and to come up with possible strategies for the conservation of endemic and threatened species and for the rehabilitation of the areas affected. The mining activities in the area of study are considered illegal and have been operating for many years now and the impacts on plant biodiversity have never been checked and no recommend proper strategies for the conservation for those endemic and threatened species. In this study, the distribution and abundance of trees as well as their endemism and conservation status were assessed within and outside the small scale gold mining area in Tumpagon village, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines to determine the likely impacts of surface mining. The study is important since the minerals industry must have environmentally responsible operations by changing their economic, environmental, and social practices. Because the mining activities in the area involves vegetation damage by the methods used not only clearing the forest but also on the surface disposal of wastes in the area, improving environmental performance by conserving biodiversity should be a key component of improved environmental performance of the areas affected and those that still remained unaffected.


The Study Area:

Tumpagon is among the hinterland villages of Cagayan de Oro City located at 8[degrees]19'19"N and 124[degrees]28'49"E and has a total area of 11,926,596 ha. It is bounded by Iponan river on the north and westside; Province of Lanao on the south and Pigsag-an village on the east. This area is known to have abundant supply of sand and gravel as well as gold. The gold mining activity in the area started during the 1950's and is still going on. The method used is surface mining through hydraulic technique utilizing highly pressurized water to dislodge the surface soils to extract the gold nuggets. Based on the existing record, the City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (CLSNR) through the City Mining Regulatory Board (CMRB) showed no approved existing mining concessions for gold, copper, or any other minerals thus all mining activities in the area are considered illegal.

Establishment of the Sampling Points:

Four 2-km transect lines were established in the area (two 2-km transects within mine areas and another two 2-km transects outside mine areas with at least 5 km distance). Each line was divided into nine sampling points placed every 250 m. ensuring that the two 2-km or sampling stations were parallel from each other and had a distance of at least 2 km. For each sampling point, a 20x20 meter quadrat was established to sample trees.

Measurement of Habitat Variables:

Habitat measurements were taken at every sampling point using a modified habitat assessment procedure of [12]. Habitat variables were measured including the number of trees with diameter at breast height dbh 40-80 and 10-20 cm, elevation, slope, distance to creek and distance to mining activity. The trees selected were measured (tree height in meters, diameter at breast height, height of first branch) using 50-m diameter tape for tree size and clinometers for tree heights. The leaf litter thickness within 5-m radius of each point was measured using a ruler. All the habitat variables except the tree counts were measured in each of the four quadrants per sampling point. The data from all quadrants per point were pooled and mean values for each habitat variable were used for analysis. The elevation of each sampling point was determined using an altimeter. The geographic coordinates of each sampling point were recorded using an etrex Vista HCx Garmin GPS. The degree of slope at the sampling points was determined using a clinometer.

Identification and Assessment of Status of Flora:

The collected plants were determined by expert identification on-site and verified using taxonomic keys from floras, books and monographs of [13, 14]; The floral species was assessed based on the book Threatened Plants of the Philippines: A preliminary Assessment by Fernando et al. [15], The National List of Threatened Philippine Plants (DENR AO No. 2007) and the IUCN Redlist [16].

Photographs were taken and herbarium specimens were made for further verification by the experts.

Analysis of Data:

Diversity indices and Canonical Correspondence analysis (CCA) were performed using the PAST software version 2.14. The CCA scores obtained from the analysis was then used to construct a boxplot which contains information pertaining to the habitat preference and survival envelope or range of tolerance of each tree species.


A total of 50 tree species under 24 families were identified within and outside the mining area of Tumpagon village, Cagayan de Oro, Philippines (Table 1). The trees were classified according to its family and Conservation statuses as well as their distribution inside and outside the mining areas were determined. The relationships of the different locations based on the presence and absence of the tree species is shown in Fig. 2.

The computation of diversity indices shows that, Species richness and abundance of trees is higher outside the mining area. However, in terms of dominance, the value is higher inside the mining area which could be explained by the high number of planted G. arborea and the naturally occurring species of C. formosum and P. arborescens. This contributed to the higher diversity outside the mining area compared to its counterpart.

It can be seen in the results that more tree species were observed outside the mining area. Tree species P. rugusa, L. domesticum, M. triphylla, N. formicaria, F. nota, F. minahassae, A. odoratissimus, P. falcataria, A. greggii, M. multiglandulosa, M. hispida, S. contorta, C. asperum, C. dichotoma, S. campanulata, P. speciosa, A. dammara, C. odorata, and M. caesla were absent inside the mining area while W. luzoniensis and A. saponaria were absent outside the mining area. Lower number of species was observed inside the mining area as the usual results caused by clearing of the area of plants to facilitate small-scale gold mining activities [17].

The box plot shown in figure 3 indicates the habitat preference and survival range of the tree species across the 3 habitat types. S. contorta was observed to grow within the early developing forest while M. monandra was present in the cultivated habitats, outside the forested area. Both have very narrow survival envelope which is limited only to a single habitat type. These species could be remnants of an old forest since they are reportedly common in low altitude primary forest [14]. It can be seen also from the figure that 4 species P.indicus, A. Blancoi, C. sumatranum and C. pentandra are well adapted to 3 habitat types. P. indicus thrives best in riverine, closed and secondary forest and is adapted to a wide range of soils further; A. Blancoi is often found in Thickest and Mid elevation forest; C. pentandra is a cultivated species; and C. sumatranum grows well in primary or secondary forests, open woodlands and grasslands, 200 to 800(-1200) m altitude on well-drained soils [14, 18]. C. nucifera and M. monandra prefers the cultivated and open areas but may extend to early secondary growth forest. F. pseudopalmae thrives in the early secondary growth forest, survives in the cultivated area and may extend to open area. The rest of the tree species only thrives in one habitat type.

Looking at the conservation status of the observed tree species, 2% were critically-endangered, 2% endangered, 10% vulnerable, 4% of least concern and 82% have data deficient so cannot be determined (Fig. 4). The critically-endangered and endangered species are S. contorta and M. monandra while vulnerable species include A. dammara, A. rimosa, A. blancoi, P. indicus, and V. parviflora. Twelve percent (12%) of the tree species in the area were Philippine endemic while the rest could be found also in other parts of the world (Fig. 5).

The Philippine endemic trees includes A. blancoi, F. pseudopalma, H. concolor, M. monandra, N. formicaria, and S. contorta. It is noteworthy that S. contorta and M. monandra were respectively classified as critically endangered and endangered. This means that almost 80% of the aforementioned Shorea species are already gone in the natural forests. Being an economically important species in the Philippines and having its timbers commercially known in the international trade is a factor that attracts the people to harvest the naturally occurring Shorea species leading to the decline in its population [19].

It can be seen from the results of this study that the illegal mining activity in the village of Tumpagon in Cagayan de Oro City in the Philippines clearly indicates that it has greatly ruined the vegetation cover of the area. Dredging for gold spoiled fertile farmland, prevented animals from grazing, and caused phylloxera throughout California's vineyards [20]. Dredged land even after years of halting the activity, the land was overgrown with grass and in some cases in the USA, once dredging ended, an abundance of digger pine, scrub oak, and berry vines sprung up [21, 22]. Unlike the impact of dredging, there is greater consensus among environmental historians on hydraulic mining's effect on vegetation especially the desolation of the landscape which many argues to be remediless and appalling [21]. While the method of hydraulicking in mining has baneful ecological consequences, degradation of the area's landscape is argued by many industries to be solvable by adopting new mining techniques such as keeping the ground level and its soil on top, thereby preserving the fertility of the land such as that is used in New Zealand. However this technique was found practically ineffective. Many conservation and preservation proposals lacked widespread appeal considering that deforestation, flammable dry underbrush grew in the place of forests, which made forest fires more prevalent and destructive [23]. It is therefore important here in the Philippines to convince Congress to pass the legislation that ultimately placed forests under the government's protection and strict implementation of environmental laws and policies to prevent more unprecedented assault on natural ecological systems" as the illegal mining have greatly damaged hills, blocked watercourses and excavated sand.


The illegal mining activity in the village of Tumpagon in Cagayan de Oro City in the Philippines clearly indicates that it has greatly ruined the vegetation cover of the area. The use of hydraulic equipment which flushes the soil or waiting for the rain to wash tilled soil to leave gold particles behind have caused a lot of erosions resulting to remarkable changes in physical appearance of the land cover. Comparison between the mined and unmined areas showed that the inside mining area is less diverse as compared to the outside mining area. The species richness and abundance of tree species is lower inside the mining area. The survival niche of the tree species is relatively broad; most of these species have preferred to thrive in cultivated habitat and early secondary growth forest. Habitat destruction is the main identified reason for the decreased diversity of trees being brought mining activities and conversion of forest land to agricultural land. Actions must be taken for the conservation of the forested habitat because of the presence of endemic, endangered and critically-endangered species.


Article history:

Received 3 August 2015

Accepted 28 October 2015

Available online 31 October 2015


The researchers gratefully acknowledge the following agencies for their full support to this study: DOSTPCIEERD for research funding; the Tumpagon Village Council for providing security measures and valuable assistance to the group during the duration of this study; the LGU-CLENRO of Cagayan de Oro City for the favorable endorsement to conduct this study and for providing the relevant baseline data.


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(1) Dennis A. Mugot, (2) Cordulo P. Ascano II, (2) Queenilyn B. Albutra, (2) Vicenta V. Ansigbat, (3) Sherryl L. Paz and (4) Cesar G. Demayo

(1) Institute of Arts and Sciences, Misamis Oriental State College of Agriculture and Technology, Claveria, Philippines

(2) Department of Environmental Science and Technology, College of Arts and Sciences, Mindanao University of Science and Technology, Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

(3) Department of Natural Sciences, Division of Environmental Science, College of Arts and Sciences, Caraga State University, Butuan City, Philippines

(4) Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science and Mathematics, Mindanao State University--Iligan Institute of Technology, Iligan City, Philippines

Corresponding Author: Dennis A. Mugot, Institute of Arts and Sciences, Misamis Oriental State College of Agriculture and Technology, Claveria, Philippines

Table 1: Species profile of trees found outside and inside the
small-scale gold mining area of Tumpagon village, Cagayan de Oro

Family Name           SCIENTIFIC NAME

1. Anacardiaceae      Mangifera caesla Jack
                      Mangifera indica Linn.
                      Mangifera morandra Linn.

2. Annonaceae         Annona muricata L.
                      Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook.f. & Thomson

3. Araliaceae         Polyscias nodosa (Blume) Seem.

4. Araucariaceae      Agathis dammara (Lamb.) Rich. & A.Rich.

5. Arecaceae          Cocos nucifera L.
                      Pinanga speciosa Becc.

6. Bignoniaceae       Spathodea campanulata Beauv.

7. Boraginiaceae      Cordia dichotoma G. Forst.

8. Burseraceae        Canarium asperum Benth.

9. Dipterocarpaceae   Shorea contorta S. Vidal

10. Euphorbiaceae     Acalypha amentacea Roxb.
                      Macaranga hispida (Blume) Mull.Arg.
                      Macaranga sp.
                      Melanolepis multiglandulosa (Reinw. Ex Blume)
                      Rchb. & Zoll.
                      Homalanthus concolor Merr

11. Hypericaceae      Cratoxylum formosum (Jacq.) Benth. & Hook.f.
                      ex Dyer
                      Cratoxylum sumatranum (Jack) Blume

12. Lamiaceae         Vitex parviflora

13. Lauraceae         Gmelina arborea

14. Leguminosae/      Litsea garciae Vidal
                      Acacia greggii A. Gray
                      Paraserianthes falcataria (L.) Nielsen
                      Albizia saponaria (Lour.) Miq.
                      Leucaena leucocephala (Lam) de Wit
                      Pterocarpus indicus Willd.

15. Malvaceae         Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers.
                      Cieba pentandra(L) Gaerthn.
                      Colona serratifolia Cav.
                      Commersonia bartramia (L.) Merr.

16. Meliaceae         Pterospermum diversifolium
                      Aglaia rimosa (Blanco) Merr.

17. Moraceae          Sandoricum koetjape
                      Artocarpus blancoi
                      Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.
                      Artocarpus odoratissimus Blanco
                      Ficus pseudopalma Blanco
                      Ficus minahassae (Teijsm. & de Vr.) Miq.
                      Ficus nota (Blanco) Merr.

18. Phyllanthaceae    Antidesma ghaesembilla Gaertn

19. Rubiaceae         Neonauclea formicaria (Elmer) Merr.
                      Wendlandia luzoniensis DC.

20. Rutaceae          Melicope triphylla (Lam.) Merr.

21. Sapindaceae       Lansium domesticum Corre
                      Pometia pinnata J.R. Forst. & G. Forst.

22. Stemonuriacea     Gomphandra luzoniensis(Merr.) Merr.

23. Ulmaceae          Pasparusa rugusa Blume.

24. Urticaceae        Pipturus arborescens (Link) C.B. Rob.

Family Name           DISTRIBUTION

1. Anacardiaceae      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Endangered/ Philippine endemic

2. Annonaceae         Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread

3. Araliaceae         Data deficient/ Widespread

4. Araucariaceae      Vulnerable/Asia Endemic

5. Arecaceae          Not assessed/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread

6. Bignoniaceae       Data deficient/ Widespread

7. Boraginiaceae      Data deficient/ Widespread

8. Burseraceae        Lower risk/ widespread

9. Dipterocarpaceae   Data deficient/ Philippine endemic

10. Euphorbiaceae     Lower risk/ widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Not assessed/ Philippine endemic

11. Hypericaceae      Lower risk/ widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread

12. Lamiaceae         Vulnerable/Widespread

13. Lauraceae         Data deficient/ Widespread

14. Leguminosae/      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Vulnerable/ Widespread

15. Malvaceae         Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread

16. Meliaceae         Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Vulnerable/ Widespread

17. Moraceae          Vulnerable/ Philippine endemic
                      Vulnerable/ Philippine Endemic
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Not assessed/ Philippine Endemic
                      Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread

18. Phyllanthaceae    Data deficient/ Widespread

19. Rubiaceae         Not assessed/ Philippine Endemic
                      Data deficient/ Widespread

20. Rutaceae          Data deficient/ Widespread

21. Sapindaceae       Data deficient/ Widespread
                      Data deficient/ Widespread

22. Stemonuriacea     Data deficient/ Widespread

23. Ulmaceae          Data deficient/ Widespread

24. Urticaceae        Data deficient/ Widespread

                      inside                outside

Family Name           transect   transect   transect   transect
                      1          2          1          2

1. Anacardiaceae      -          -          -          +
                      -          -          -          +
                      -          +          +          +

2. Annonaceae         +          -          +          -
                      -          -          +          +

3. Araliaceae         +          +          +          +

4. Araucariaceae      -          -          +          -

5. Arecaceae          +          +          +          +
                      -          -          +          -

6. Bignoniaceae       -          -          +          +

7. Boraginiaceae      -          -          +          -

8. Burseraceae        -          -          +          -

9. Dipterocarpaceae   -          -          +          +

10. Euphorbiaceae     +          +          +          +
                      -          -          +          +
                      +          -          +          -
                      -          -          +          +
                      +          -          +          -

11. Hypericaceae      -          +          -          -
                      -          -          -          +

12. Lamiaceae         -          -          -          +

13. Lauraceae         -          +          +          -

14. Leguminosae/      +          -          -          -
                      -          -          +          +
                      -          -          +          +
                      -          +          -          -
                      +          -          -          -
                      +          -          +          +

15. Malvaceae         -          +          -          -
                      +          +          +          +
                      -          +          -          +
                      -          -          -          +

16. Meliaceae         -          -          +          +
                      -          -          +          -

17. Moraceae          -          -          -          +
                      -          +          +          -
                      +          +          +          -
                      -          -          +          +
                      +          +          +          +
                      -          -          +          -
                      -          -          +          -

18. Phyllanthaceae    +          -          +          +

19. Rubiaceae         -          -          +          +
                      -          +          -          -

20. Rutaceae          -          -          +          -

21. Sapindaceae       -          -          +          -
                      +          -          +          -

22. Stemonuriacea     -          +          -          +

23. Ulmaceae          -          -          +          -

24. Urticaceae        +          +          +          +

Table 2: Diversity Indices of Tree Species Found Outside and Inside
the Small Scale Gold Mining Area of Brgy. Tumpagon, Cagayan de Oro,


Species richness    24                   45
Individuals         134                  229
Dominance D         7.429                4.42424
Shannon H'          2.64                 3.38
Evenness eAH/S      16.1649              15.5763
Simpson 1-D         10.57                13.56

Fig. 4: Summary of the Conservation status the trees in Brgy.
Tumpagon Cagayan de Oro City.

Critically Endangered   2%
Endangered              2%
Vulnerable              10%
Least Concern           4%
Data Deficient          82%

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Fig. 5: Summary of the distribution status of the trees in Brgy.
Tumpagon, Cagayan de Oro City.

Philippine Endemic   12%
Widespread           88%

Note: Table made from pie chart.
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Author:Mugot, Dennis A.; Ascano, Cordulo P., II; Albutra, Queenilyn B.; Ansigbat, Vicenta V.; Paz, Sherryl
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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