Love and save our trees – environmental groups

February 26, 2014 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

On the eve of Valentines Day, Green Convergence, a broad national coalition of environmental networks, organizations and individuals called government to show love for the environment by saving the trees which give clean air, healthy soil, and adequate water supply.

To dramatize this urgent call, running priest Fr. Robert Reyes ran in the highway passing through Binalonan, Pangasinan, while some representatives of Green Convergence tied white ribbons on some remaining trees in this municipality affected by the Manila North Road (MNR) widening project.

Out of the total of 1,829 trees targetted to be killed for this road plan, the biggest number of trees will be cut in Binalonan. Based on the tree cutting permit, five hundred ninety eight (598) trees will be removed in Binalonan. Based on the DENR report, there are still 316 standing trees in Binalonan.

Green Convergence President Dr. Angelina Galang echoed the sentiments of the collective statement signed by many environmental, church and academic organizations: “We are enraged that the DENR, the lead government agency tasked to conserve, protect, and rehabilitate the Philippine environment gave its imprimatur for the massive destruction of trees through its Special Tree Cutting and Earth-Balling Permit No. 2013-10 issued in November 4, 2013.”

Environmental sociologist Patria Gwen M.L. Borcena of Greenresearch has been very disappointed: “The recent massive destruction of trees in Pangasinan indicates that the lessons learned on the present leadership of DENR. It has failed to make the necessary shift towards a sustainable development paradigm that puts a premium on the protection of the environment and natural resources.”

Forester Dr. Roger Z. Guzman, Executive Director of the Philippine Federation for Environmental Concern (PFEC) asserted that: “Cutting of mature full grown trees can not be justified by replacing one tree with 100 seedlings or samplings, which survival rate are not even certain. Destruction of big trees will contribute to increased carbon emission and will result to less carbon sequestration.”

Youth for Sustainable Development Assembly (YSDA) Executive Director Rior Santos lamented: “Hindi magandang halimbawa sa mga bata at kabataan ang ginawang massacre ng maraming puno, pati paraan ng unti-unting pagpatay sa mga puno.”
Forester Dr. Guzman thinks that since the DPWH knew that it will not meet the deadline for the tree cutting permit (90 days) on February 7, so they resorted to “girdling” (which means removal of the bark around the tree trunks) many trees, which prevents the trees in getting the needed nutrients, leading to its slow death.

Greenresearch environmental lawyer Atty. Galahad Pe Benito was one of the first who called the attention of fellow green groups about the tree cutting: “Can they replace the scenic value of the trees? We appeal to DENR not to grant DPWH’s request for an extension of the tree cutting permit. We warned them that we are ready to go to court for our constitutionally protected rights.”

Cutting of trees in Pangasinan violated some laws such certain provisions of P.D. 705 Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines as Amended. For instance, many trees were not properly marked, resulting in indiscriminate cutting in some areas.

Furthermore, the interdisciplinary team from Green Convergence observed that there were some violations in the conditions stipulated in the tree-cutting permit. No earth-balling was done although the permit required one hundred seven samplings to be earth-balled and transplanted. During the dialogue with Green Convergence representatives, CENRO Fernando Estrada, Jr. admitted that no earth-balling was done for lack of equipment. He also said that there was difficulty locating an appropriate planting sites for 180,000 seedlings in the affected municipalities.

Many residents in the affected areas reported that there was a lack of genuine and transparent multi-stakeholder and community consultation prior to issuing the permit.

Forester Guzman and Fr. Robert demonstrated how we can still save the remaining girdled trees, through proper tree surgery. We call the DENR to implement such program and involve the communities in the rehabilitation and monitoring.

Entry filed under: News.

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