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Wednesday, September 18, 2019
PAMPANGA

Peña: Now is the time to plant trees

E-ssue

IT’S been raining almost every day for two weeks. Some areas here in Pampanga are already flooded. Asphalt roads, including the supposedly well-maintained NLEX, are riddled with pot holes. On the bright side, all dams are now recovering from critical levels.

We should take advantage of the rainy season to plant trees. Now is the right time. The rains give the seedlings a good chance of surviving, especially those planted in the mountains where watering is difficult. Please plant native trees like Narra. Avoid the “Mahogany” tree which is not native to us and different from the real Philippine Mahogany species. In the backyard, plant fruit-bearing trees.

If only the Arbor Day law is strictly implemented, we are assured that millions of trees will be planted every year. Section 8 of Republic Act No. 10176, or the Arbor Day Act of 2012, requires all able-bodied citizens of the Philippines, who are at least twelve (12) years of age, to plant one (1) tree every year. Unfortunately, there is no provision in the law and in the IRR to enforce and monitor compliance to this requirement. The law is toothless.

In the Mabalacat City Environmental Code which I authored, I included a provision to monitor compliance to compulsory tree planting. In Section 12 it reads: “Public and Private schools shall ensure the implementation of this requirement in their respective schools while Barangay Officials shall initiate guidelines on how to enforce it. The proof of compliance shall be a certification from the schools for students and the Barangay Captain for its constituents. This certification may be required by City Hall departments before the issuance of public documents like Mayor’s Permit.”

With proper coordination, planting of trees can be a one-time-big-time event. That’s what they did in Ethiopia. In one huge push to reach their goal of planting 4 billion trees by October, Ethiopians planted 350 million trees in a span of 12 hours on July 29th. They passed the previous world record set by India in 2017, when volunteers planted 66 million trees in 12 hours.

In the Philippines, we have the National Greening Program which started during the time of President Noynoy Aquino and continued in the current administration. As of July this year, around 1.6 billion trees have been planted in 2 million hectares of land.

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A new research reveals a surprising new benefit of trees: reduce cravings for alcohol, cigarettes and harmful foods. The study, led by the University of Plymouth, is the first to show that even just looking out the window at green space is linked to weaker and less frequent craving.

The team found that having access to a garden or having a residential view of which more than 25 percent was greenspace was associated with both lower craving strength and frequency. The researchers also point out that this may serve as further inspiration to protect and invest more in urban green spaces.


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