I PASSED by the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) yesterday morning and saw the number of dead Acacia trees along the sidewalk. These Acacia trees are among the thousands of fully grown trees killed by the contractors of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Central Luzon.
Since 2008, at least 1,211 trees of different varieties along MacArthur Highway from the municipality of Apalit to Mabalacat City were cut to pave the way for the road-widening project of the DPWH. Aside from the trees in Pampanga, about 3,200 other trees in Tarlac province were also killed in a span of 10 years, all in the name of development.
Again, the issue between infrastructure development and environmental protection is brought to light as we count the dead trees along MacArthur Highway. The DPWH claims that there is no other way but to expand the roads and kill the trees.
But this is a fragmented and shallow perspective of development because time and again, our model communities around the globe have proven that development can be harmonious to environment. Singapore for one has perfected this by maximizing its space for infra development but with a green design, making sure that the city is protected by fully-grown trees and other vegetation.
According to several studies and one coming from the New York University, it shows that trees are the most powerful agents against global warming and climate change. They say that trees can reduce air temperature by blocking sunlight, a natural air conditioner. “The evaporation from a single tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day,” the NYU said.
Trees also absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, from the air. They release oxygen and one large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people. The NYU added that a healthy tree can store 13 pounds of carbon each year.
In highly urbanized cities, green development helps reduce pollution, noise and stress among people. Dust level in the air can be reduced down to 75 percent lower with fully grown trees along major areas or roads. I also mentioned before that the land and property valuation in urban areas increases because of green landscapes.
Do we really need to say more? Is it really that difficult to understand? How dense can other people be?
Holistic and genuine development is not only about construction or building structures. It is building communities with a comprehensive program, both for the people and for other living things on Earth. Holistic development is also about sustainability, making a community livable in the next century or even more.
The DPWH and other agencies of the government, specially the local government units, must think ahead of their time. Study, analyze and visualize. There are no acceptable reasons for killing a fully grown tree. Just saying.
In a brief encounter with the newly-elected mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac, Andy Lacson, I am glad to learn that he is quite a visionary. He is steering his town to become a hub for economic activities and sunshine industries such as the P20-billion investment from Steel Asia. He said they are also targeting to open a 700-hectare economic zone in Barangay Telabanca even as they expect 6,000 additional jobs from new investments. The mayor, however, vowed to seriously plan a program to mitigate the expected environmental impact of incoming industries.
On a different note, I want to thank Selrahco and Charles Lim of Cebu Pacific for a “coffee-time gift” from Great Taste. Now, coffee lovers have more reasons to indulge in a delicious cup as Great Taste White launched its latest variants including White Caramel and White Crema. The rainy season is here, let us keep ourselves warm and have a cup of coffee!