SAVE 5,075 TREES IN BATAAN
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ROAD-WIDENING PROJECT OF BATAAN EXPRESSWAY
An ongoing road expansion and rehabilitation project of the Roman Expressway stretching from Layac junction in Dinalupihan to Mariveles has placed 5,075 full grown trees at risk.
700 trees in the first district and 4,375 trees in the second district are planned to be cut down or earth-balled (relocated) to give way to the 6-lane widening project of the Roman Highway with a budget estimate of Php 1.1 billion and is targeted for completion within 2 years. (Esconde, 2016)
Most of the trees are Acacia, Eucalyptus and Narra (classified to be an endangered tree species) that were planted in the 1970s. Based on a published article, the engineering planning section of the province couldn’t determine the exact age of the trees except for the diameter of the trunks ranging from 0.2 to 1.5 meters.
Since most of it are old trees, it is yet to be determined which trees can recover from earth-balling and which among it are subject to tree-cutting.
An article from 1Bataan's website says the affected trees are "transplanted to the town’s sanitary landfill facility" (Rubiano, 2017)
Bataan heritage trees
These almost half-century old trees carry stories of our past and have been a witness to our province’s history. They have grown into our land even before most of us have inhabited it. These trees also represent our environmental heritage and as a community responsible for its conservation, we have to find ways on how we can preserve these historical trees along the stretch of our provincial highway. More than its ecological benefits, the significance these trees stand for is what makes it irreplaceable.
Development is good but never at the cost of our environment. This can also ruin our ecological balance. Eradication and relocation of almost 5000 trees have significant effects to our biodiversity, carbon sequestration and water storage capability. It is only through our shared efforts that we can prevent the depletion of our natural resources, especially in our homeland - Bataan.
At the end of the day, the goal of modern society should be centered towards sustainable development which includes preservation of our natural resources and protection of the environment we share with the rest of the ecosystem.
PROBLEMS ARISING FROM THIS:
Cutting of endangered trees
Narra tree is declared by DENR to be a “premium and endangered wildlife species”. The Philippines has reported to possess “small, scattered and endangered remainders of the tree” despite it being our national symbol. Since the diminution of Narra, the national government decided in 1987 to prohibit the felling down, collection and export of this specific tree species.
Even if the project managers claim to have acquired clearance from DENR to cut and move 5,075 trees for the widening works, they have not been transparent to the public in presenting the permits and the terms that blanket this said approval.
According to Sec 68 of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, “ Cutting, gathering and/or collecting timber or other products without license. Any person who shall cut, gather, collect, or remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable and disposable public lands, or from private lands, without any authority under a license agreement, lease, license or permit, shall be guilty of qualified theft as defined and punished under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code;”
Earthballing is misleading
Any forester wouldn’t recommend earth balling old trees with basal diameter of more than one meter as the root system of these trees have gone deep and wide. Uprooting and relocating these trees would not guarantee its survival and longevity. Its life expectancy would be at risk.
What is Earth balling?
Earth balling is the process involves removing a tree by digging out the soil and roots in a circular shape, leaving most of the root system undisturbed and intact. The size of the earth ball to be dug up is usually directly proportional to the size of the tree – the bigger the tree, the bigger the ball (CDN, 2012) Complications such as transplant shock and stress may occur after the move. Special care should be given even after planting the trees, as it takes a year for recovery – more as they get bigger.
Road widening doesn’t ease traffic congestion
On the contrary, road widening only invites vehicular volume. As a resident and a road user in the area, no traffic density has been observed except on few occassions that there are obstructions along the highway caused by vehicular accidents and road constructions.
More than road widening, the government should prioritize installing lampposts to light roads and functioning stop lights across intersections, and implement better traffic management in the province.
A. Issuance of a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) to save the remaining trees and conduct an investigation on the project, specifically the environmental havoc it has caused. In the course of this TEPO, we plead to the provincial government and responsible agencies to reconsider cutting down the trees for the said road widening project.
B. Post-rehabilitation plans for uprooted and transferred trees
It is important that there is transparency on the transferral of the trees and that replanting locations are publicly identified. In this manner, there must be written reports on its monitoring that will allow the public to track its progress and the results of the operation. We also ask the provincial government to allocate budget from the project to guarantee success of rehabilitation plans, including forest preservation and tree planting initiatives.
C. Agreement to plant 100 trees for every naturally grown tree taken down
A proposed timetable for the responsible agencies to comply with this commitment and initiate tree planting activities. Often times, the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued before commencing any infrastructure project encompasses a tree replacement program.
D. Repurposing of collected wood
Also stated in the Revised Forestry Code, Sec 79, that “No person shall sell or offer for sale any log, lumber, plywood or other manufactured wood products in the international or domestic market unless he complies with grading rules and established or to be established by the Government. Failure to adhere to the established grading rules and standards, or any act of falsification of the volume of logs, lumber, or other forest products shall be a sufficient cause for the suspension of the export, sawmill, or other license or permit authorizing the manufacture or sale of such products for a period of not less than two (2) years.”
Since selling of wood, especially premium wood such as Narra, is illegal without the necessary permits..The public should know how the collected wood is being managed and used, and how we can transform it to be of benefit to the people.
Why save the trees?
- It combats climate change
- Prevents flood and serves as natural drainage (flood mitigation)
- Serves as natural protection agents of communities and ecosystems from soil erosion
- Cleans our air (reduction of air pollution)
- Protects us from harmful UV-rays
- Cools down the trees and the city
- Conserves energy
- Converts carbon dioxide to oxygen
- Home to animals (a habitat for wildlife)
- Source of food
“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you think you can only do little.” Let’s do what we can before it’s too late. Every tree, as much as every life, counts.
Watch video here:
GMA NEWS: 4k trees—mostly narra, acacia—either cut or transferred due to Bataan road-widening https://youtu.be/7X49eSd_7uk
http://www.1bataan.com/bataan-widens-roads-saves-trees/ (article taken down as of June 3, 2018)
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