Editorial: Tree-cutting impasse-A A +A
Friday, October 11, 2013
IT'S amusing to hear some of the reactions to the report that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has issued a special tree-cutting permit so the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) can proceed with the stalled widening of the portion of Cebu’s south road traversing the cities of Naga to Carcar.
One group, the Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC) talked about filing a case against DENR and DPWH officials. Some netizens, meanwhile, are conducting an online campaign to save the trees.
The reactions were amusing because these were obviously knee-jerk. These were made even before the protesters could delve into the details of the decision or talk with officials of DENR and DPWH.
DENR did not simply allow the trees that will be affected by the road-widening project to be cut. It set conditions for it.
First, DPWH should get endorsements from barangays Langtad, Tinaan and Inuboran in Naga City. Second, DPWH should conduct a thorough study and assessment of biodiversity concerns and the impact of cutting trees. Third, DPWH should plant 13,800 indigenous native trees as replacements.
There are other details, like the number of trees that would be affected (42, including eight century-old acacia trees). But 16 of the century-old trees will remain, with DPWH required to come up with another road-widening design that would not involve the cutting of those trees.
Of course, there is still a need for environmental and heritage groups to look into the acceptability of the conditions DENR set before DPWH could be allowed to cut the trees or earth-ball them. But in doing that, the same groups should consider balancing the thrust of protecting the trees with the need to finish the road-widening project.
The better option would be to stop the harsh talk and the issuance of threats through the media and for DENR to meet with DPWH and concerned groups to explain its decision and discuss related issues. There should be a meeting of the minds before work could proceed.
Advancing environmental concerns is good, but it should involve openness and flexibility. Rigidity on the matter can be a bane.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 12, 2013.