Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


Mr. Arsenio B. Ella
Forest Products Research & Development Institute (FPRDI), LAGUNA


In the Philippines, cutting of almaciga (Agathis philippinensis Warb.) for timber and lumber production is banned. Hence the utilization of this species is limited to the resin, known in the world trade as almaciga resin or Manila copal. Almaciga resin is used in the manufacture of varnishes, lacquer, soap, paint, printing inks, linoleum, shoe polish, floor wax, plastic, water proofing materials, paper sizing and many other products. Locally, it is used as incense in religious ceremonies, as fuel, torches, caulking substances and smudge for mosquitoes. Although regarded as a minor forest product, it is one of the country's leading dollar earners. In 1997, the Philippine Forestry Statistics reported that 381,000 kg of almaciga resin valued at US$303,000 were exported.

There are two kinds of almaciga resin: the ground or fossil resin, and the surface or tapped resin. Fossil resin is the amber-coloured exudation from the roots. It is obtained by digging into the ground where the almaciga once grew. In contrast, surface resin is extracted by tapping a living almaciga tree. It is soft when fresh, but hardens over time as it flows freely and later turns to amber-coloured like the fossil resin. Between the methods, tapping is the easier way to produce Manila copal.

However, traditional methods employed by Filipino tappers to harvest the resin, which include deep tapping, overtapping and frequent rechipping is endangering the industry.

Traditional tapping methods

The more common methods of almaciga tapping in the Philippines are:

In this study, FPRDI aims to establish guidelines for the proper tapping that will help prolong the life span of almaciga trees thereby maximizing resin production.

Materials and Methods

Various R and D studies have been conducted by FPRDI, including: (a) determination of the effects of four diameter classes (20–30cm, 40–50 cm, 60–70cm and 80 cm above) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4) at four concentrations (0%, 40% and 60% by volume) on resin production of almaciga trees; (b) survey of improper tapping practices of almaciga resin in the Philippines; and (c) identification of other factors affecting resin production. The investigations were designed primarily to improve the conventional methods of tapping almaciga trees so as to attain sustained yield productivity.

Results and Discussion

Earlier studies have shown that resin production is affected by:

Proper Tapping Methods

Owing to the detrimental effects of traditional tapping methods, FPRDI laid down the following guidelines for the proper tapping of almaciga trees. This tapping method was based on the results from the R &D studies FPRDI had conducted: (a) resin yield increased with increasing diameters up to 60 cm, but decreased at higher diameter classes; (b) resin exudation directly increased with increasing acid concentrations up to 50%, but either leveled off or decreased at higher concentrations; and (c) diameter and sulfuric acid acted independently on resin exudation of almaciga trees. The guidelines are:


FPRDI had established guidelines for the proper tapping method of almaciga trees. The application of such guidelines would require a good working knowledge about the basic structure of the stem, nature of resin production, and biological factors in relation to tapping process in order to: (a) prolong the life span of almaciga tree; b) increase production of quality almaciga resin; (c) increase income of tappers; and (d) help in the conservation program of the government.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page