FICUS RACEMOSA: GROWING FIGS TO ATTRACT WILDLIFE
Ficus racemosa is one of the world most productive fruit trees. Along the Kinabatangan and Segama rivers crops ripen every 6 to 8 weeks providing up to 8 crops per annum and a continuous food supply to the wildlife living in and along the river.
The Fig Fruits are eaten by a very wide range of animals including wild pigs, hornbills, fruit bats, orangutans, gibbons, proboscis monkeys , macaques and fish. In turn these animals provide food for top level predators such as fish owls, herons, fish eagles, darters, otters, Clouded Leopards, monitor lizards, pythons and crocodiles.
Framework Planting for Reforestation is based on the concept of mimicking natural plant succession in forest gaps. The first plants to establish after landslips and tree falls are bird and bat and civet dispersed pioneer plants such as figs and macarangas. As soon as the pioneers start fruiting, they attract more bats, birds, civets and deer who bring in and drop the seeds of a much wider variety of forest fruits. Thus, by planting figs in the first stages of reforestation both the speed of development and diversity of the new forest is enhanced.
Ficus racemosa is being tested for reforestation at several sites in Borneo. The article below is about different propagation techniques for Ficus racemosa compared at the Kerala Agricultural University Joseph et al (2011) Standardization of propagation 4 Indian figs
PROPAGATION BY SEED
Average Seeds per ripe fig: 1,628
Seed Viability: Six months at room temperature; Over 2 years if kept in a fridge.
Germination: 11% if pre-soaked in 10 hot water for 10 minutes. Without soaking 5%
Germination Time: 10-15 days if kept damp in sunlight.
Growth after 11 months in poly bags: 1 m + -ready for planting out
PROPAGATION BY STEM CUTTINGS
Stem cuttings: had around 10 %. success The best cuttings were 15-25 mm thick.
PROPAGATION BY AIR LAYERING (WATER OR COMPOST)
Air Layering: had up to 80% success but took the greatest amount of labor.
CONCLUSION: Propagation by Air Layering was most successful but very labor intensive. Planting by seed was the most cost effective method to produce large numbers of saplings.