THE Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) Inc. welcomed the passage of the ordinance institutionalizing Arbor Day and the Tree Planting Program of Davao City as a step closer to making the City greener and more livable.

The ordinance, which was passed by the 19th City Council, declares every 25th of June as Arbor Day. The City, however, may allow a separate day for the actual date of tree planting whenever necessary, considering the suitable plating season, unpredictable changes of weather, and availability of participants.

Who and where to plant

All able-bodies officials and employees of the City Government of Davao are required to plant and nurture one tree per year as part of their duty and responsibility, whether it will be planted in a common public tree planting site or in a private estate.

Also, all employees of National Agencies with office in the City of Davao, non-government organizations (NGOs) and People’s Organization, public and private schools, universities, private offices and enterprises and other business establishment operating in the City of Davao may set a different day within the year to celebrate the Arbor Day to conduct tree planting activities whether it can be a common public tree planting site or in a private estate.

The employees, students, and other individuals, who are at least 12 years of age, are encouraged to plant and support at least one tree every year.

The trees to be planted are native or endemic trees, including fruit bearing and mangroves. Bamboo trees are also encouraged to be planted along riverbanks. The planting activity shall be done preferably in public lands, forest parks, watershed areas, public parks in rural and urban areas, riverbanks (preferably for bamboo), public school grounds, gardens or other available areas within the school premises, private schools, private parks and lands with the consent of the owner, and other water use sub-zone for mangrove planting.

“We are glad that we finally have a city ordinance on Arbor Day pursuant to Sec. 4 of RA 10176. We appreciate the City Council for crafting this policy, and we hope that all Dabawenyos will participate to this annual event. With the rise of our Urban Heat Index and the climate change we are experiencing today, we need to plant more trees to help absorb and sink the carbon that would otherwise contribute to global heating," said lawyer Mark T. Peñalver, IDIS Executive director.

Forest and Mangrove Parks

The said ordinance also declared protected areas under the care of the City of Davao as "forest parks" and identified common public tree planting sites are declared protected areas under the care of the city hereby declared as "Mangrove parks."

The following activities are prohibited on the declared forest and mangroves parks:

a) Hunting, destroying, disturbing, or mere possession of any plants or animals or products derived therefrom without a permit from the Parks System Board;

b) Dumping of any waste products;

c) Use of any motorized equipment without a permit from the Parks System Board;

d) Mutilating, defacing or destroying objects of natural beauty, or objects of interest to cultural communities (of scenic value);

e) Damaging and leaving roads and trails in a damaged condition;

f) Squatting, mineral locating;

g) Constructing or maintaining any kind of structure, fence or enclosures, and conducting any business enterprise without a permit;

h) Leaving in exposed or unsanitary conditions refuse or debris, or depositing in ground or in bodies of water;

i) Altering, removing destroying or defacing boundary marks or signs;

j) Burning or setting afire any part of the area as a mode of clearing or otherwise;

k) Wood gatherer in the area shall not sell and distribute firewood or its derivative without the Barangay’s Certification that the wood materials were secured and taken from non-forest areas which certification must be issued prior to such sale or distribution.

For this purpose, no person shall deal with firewood and its derivatives for commercial purpose without a copy of the certification as required herein; l) No person shall, by act of or omission, let loose their farm and/or domesticated animals within areas identified as planting areas within the established park; and m) Cutting of trees, and any form of excavation within the area of the park without prior clearance from the Parks System Board is prohibited.

Violations of the prohibited acts will be penalized with P2,500 fine for the first offense, P3,500 for the second offense and/or imprisonment not exceeding six months for the second offense P5,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding one year for the third offense.

Through the implementation of this ordinance, IDIS also seeks in restoring forest canopies especially for critical watersheds, disaster mitigating zones, riverbanks, wetlands, urban parks etc. Hence, IDIS calls that diverse and appropriate native and endemic tree species should be selected in planting and establishing of nurseries to restore the natural biodiversity and ecology of these areas. (PR)