Cutting permit exempts Perrelos acacia trees-A A +A
Monday, October 14, 2013
THE acacia trees that line the highway in Barangay Perrelos, Carcar City cannot be cut because of their heritage value, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 assured yesterday.
DENR 7 spokesperson Eddie Llamedo said that only seven acacia trees that hinder the south national highway widening project in three barangays in the City of Naga are covered by a Special Tree Cutting Permit (STCP).
But officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 who met with DENR 7 for a technical conference yesterday said they find the cost of implementing some conditions in the STCP too steep.
One condition cited by DPWH 7 involves the planting of 13,800 tree seedlings, in exchange for the 42 trees that the agency wants to cut for the highway widening project.
Llamedo stressed that trees found along the highway from San Fernando town to Carcar City are not covered by the STCP. The DPWH needs to apply for another STCP for those trees, he added.
As for the trees in Perrelos, Llamedo said, DPWH will have to come up with a design that involves the preservation of the century-old trees.
Danilo Lumalo, DPWH 7 project engineer, told reporters that planting 13,800 seedlings would be costly because the department will have to buy seedlings.
Under the STCP, the DPWH also needs to earth ball the still healthy trees—to transport them by digging out their roots and the soil attached to them—which are affected by the road project.
The Cebu Provincial Board (PB), in a resolution adopted yesterday, asked DENR and DPWH to defer the cutting of trees along the highway in Carcar City.
The move came after lawyer Aaron Pedrosa of the Freedom from Debt Coalition asked Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale to issue a cease and desist order against the tree-cutting.
The PB wants a heritage conservation plan in place prior to the cutting.
The resolution cited the Environment Code of the province, which provides for the conservation of Cebu’s heritage. The PB considers the acacia trees in Carcar as part of Cebu’s natural heritage.
Gov. Hilario Davide III, on the other hand, said he will meet with the DENR, DPWH and those opposed to the tree-cutting to find a solution to the issue.
The governor pointed out that there is a need to balance the need to “preserve the heritage and (address) the hazard that these trees will cause.”
The Sept. 30, 2013 STCP allows DPWH 7 to remove a total of 154 trees, including eight decaying century-old acacia trees found along the highway in Barangays Tinaan, Inuboran and Langtad, Naga.
Forty-two of the trees, having a diameter of 26 centimeters and more, can be cut.
But the DPWH has to earth ball 96 trees of different species and rehabilitate 16 acacia trees.
Before cutting can begin, DPWH must assess the biodiversity, carbon sequestration capability and water storage potential of the trees affected by the project to identify measures to mitigate the negative effects of the activity.
Public consultations must also be conducted.
Llamedo said the seven trees in Naga, which are covered by the existing STCP, are in an advanced stage of decay and so must be cut anyway.
Several groups are opposing the cutting of the century-old acacia trees that line the south highway, particularly those in Carcar City.
The DENR said it welcomes any independent study to determine the health of the trees.
DENR 7 said it can help DPWH in earth balling trees and planting of seedlings.
Lumalo said they will submit DENR's recommendations to DPWH 7 Director Ador Canlas.
Lumalo revealed that the road widening project is already 98 percent complete and was supposed to be finished by late this month.
He said the conditions in the STCP would delay the project’s completion.
The widening of the N. Bacalso National Highway in Naga is the first phase of a multi-million road widening project, costs about P78 million and covers 1.3 kilometers
Cleo Colis, DENR 7 Forest Resources Development Office chief, told reporters that they have proposed that DPWH transfer the trees to the South Road Properties or to the reclamation area prepared by the City Government of Naga.
During their regular session, PB members found different ways to express their stance on the tree-cutting.
PB Member Ribomapil Holganza suggested including the issue as a referendum during the barangay elections on Oct. 28.
PB Member Julian Daan delivered a poem titled, “Hain man ang palabihon ang dalan o ang kahoy (Which is more important a road or a tree)?” In Cebuano, he said a road will last longer than a tree that would be eaten by termites and eventually fall.
Magpale said she is in favor of transfer the road and constructing a center island where the trees are located so there will be no cutting. She admitted, though, that this would entail additional cost on the government.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 15, 2013.