DPWH can cut down trees blocking road projects-A A +A
Monday, October 7, 2013
THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has given the DPWH a permit to cut down 42 trees that are on the site of an ongoing road widening project between the cities of Naga and Carcar.
The special tree cutting permit (STCP) approved last Sept. 10 says the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 has been given approval to remove 42 trees, including eight century-old acacia trees along the project site.
The eight acacia trees are reportedly in the advanced stages of decay and could pose danger to the public if left uncut.
But the DPWH 7 must also follow conditions to ensure that the STCP is not revoked, including earth-balling 96 trees and preserving 16 century-old acacia trees that were identified for rehabilitation.
An environmental advocate urged concerned officials of the DENR and DPWH to consult with the public first, as cutting the trees will have an impact on climate change.
Eddie Llamedo, DENR 7 spokesperson, said the STCP was signed by DENR 7 Director Isabelo Montejo Jr. and was given clearance by DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio Jr.
Llamedo said that while they have allowed the removal of the eight decaying acacia trees for safety reasons, they advised the DPWH 7 to avoid cutting the other 16 century-old trees since these can still be rehabilitated.
Under the supervision of DENR 7 Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and the Naga City Government, the cut down trees and wood materials should be turned over to the DENR.
Also, part of the DPWH 7’s conditions is that they should plant about 13, 800 indigenous or native seedlings and maintain them for three years, insuring 80 percent survival rate.
Replacement and planting of the seedlings must start prior to the tree cutting.
The DPWH 7 also wants the earth-balled trees maintained for three years. For every transplanted tree that will not survive after six months, DPWH 7 must replace it with 100 seedlings, another condition said.
The trees to be cut are in Barangays Tinaan, Inoburan and Langtad, all in Naga City.
Montejo said the STCP will expire within six months.
The DPWH 7 must also submit a certification from barangay captains that they don’t object to the cutting of trees.
DPWH 7 must also conduct public consultations.
Aside from securing an environmental compliance certificate (ECC), DPWH 7 must assess the trees’ biodiversity, carbon sequestration potential and water storage capacity.
DPWH 7 must also put up signage in the areas to warn the public of the activity.
“I will constitute a special team with Naga City and other stakeholders to monitor and supervise the operation as soon as we have the schedule of activities from the DPWH,” Montejo said.
Lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos of the Global Legal Action on Climate Change (GLACC) told Sun.Star Cebu the cutting of trees must be done with consultation from concerned residents living near it.
“If the purpose to cut trees is for road widening or infrastructure development, there has to be a genuine public consultation, rigorous assessment on the impacts to biodiversity, ecosystem services, climate change and even heritage considerations”, Ramos said.
She said the Naga City Government could be held liable for allowing the removal of trees for developmental projects without prior consultation and assessment.
Ramos said that unplanned development projects and land use conversion contribute to the increase in carbon monoxide and greenhouse gas emissions.
She said the project must coincide with policies stated by the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Management laws.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 07, 2013.