John Hay defends cutting trees-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Friday, February 15, 2013
THE John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC) defended the harvesting of 60 “dead” pine trees last November, stressing the incident posed threat to life and property.
JHMC president Dr. Jamie Eloise Agbayani said they were in close coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on the fate of the pine trees.
A request to cut the trees was made in 2010 but only addressed last year.
The Benguet pine trees, which were classified by the Camp JHMC’s Team as “dead,” were cut November last year with a permit issued by Mayor Mauricio Domogan upon request of the Camp John Hay Golf Club prior to the Fil-Am Invitational Golf Tournament.
Agbayani said in the 2010 Multipartite Monitoring Team (MMT) report, 90 percent of the pine trees were infested with ips calligraphus, a beetle known to cause growth stunting, browning of pine needles and death of pine trees.
The MMT then recommended the cutting before any unfortunate incident involving employees and visitors and before the contamination of other live trees in the area.
MMT members, who monitored the tree cutting, were IP representative Dr. Julie Cabato, City Mayor’s Office executive assistant Camilo Estepa, Cepmo representatives John Padua and Cristito Sandoval and JHMC representatives Editha Ballong and Alberto Banatao. There was no representative from the DENR.
According to the JHMC president, “the trees that were cut were recently revalidated as dead by the MMT with the presence of the City Environment and Natural Resources and DENR Forest Management Bureau representatives this week.”
The JHMC president also emphasized the 60-felled trees were not covered by the existing Executive Order 23, or the moratorium on the cutting or harvesting of timber in natural and residual forests because the EO only pertains to live trees.
However, in an earlier DENR memorandum issued by DENR regional executive director Clarence Baguilat, future inspection reports of the MMT should be forwarded to the DENR for further evaluation by its officials and a clearance be issued by DENR Secretary Ramon Paje prior to its cutting.
The DENR earlier questioned why the MMT of the Camp John Hay Development project pursued the tree cutting activities while a cease and desist order is in effect, as issued by Baguilat in naturally growing pine trees inside Camp John Hay in accordance to President Aquino’s Executive Order 23.
The memorandum also stressed a Comprehensive Development Plan should be crafted prior to the cutting “indicating the impact of the trees felled to its immediate environs.”
“Had the CDP been crafted, it would have specified the necessary activities to be carried out for the 60 Benguet pine trees and other infested pine trees,” Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) said.
The JHMC president, meanwhile, added they are now in the process of consulting forest pathologists from the DENR to be more preventive rather than cutting infested trees every time applications from locators arrive.
However, Camp John Hay forester Alberto Banatao said tree doctors can only do so much at the onset of the infestation. He said the trees need to be cut to prevent other healthy trees from being harmed.
Banatao said there are at least 115,682 trees inside Camp John hay based on the last tree inventory Hay conducted in 2001 which has grown to their estimates at 120,747 trees as of last year.
Agbayani said they are no longer processing any tree cutting permit for pruning or cutting as they are planning to do another inventory of trees inside Camp John Hay especially those infested by the ips calligraphus.
She added there are still 136 pine trees that are pending evaluation before any issuance of tree cutting permits.
Camp John Hay currently contains the remaining 30 percent of Baguio City’s forest cover, which Agbayani said is a significant number since the John Hay reservation is only 11 percent of the total land area of the city.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 16, 2013.