AN ENVIRONMENTAL group said the recently passed Heritage Tree Ordinance in Davao City is a "much-needed intervention" in addressing climate change and air pollution.

The 19th City Council passed on Tuesday, November 23, an ordinance protecting heritage trees and all other trees in the city.

In a statement, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis) said the Heritage Tree Ordinance, which is a landmark ordinance, aims to protect, preserve, and promote the importance of Davao City’s Heritage Trees located in urban areas of the City.

The ordinance also highlights the economic benefits of trees and their ecological role in improving air quality, reducing floods, and habitat for other wildlife species.

The group lauded its passage in which they had also lobbied for quite some time.

"This win for the environment is a much-needed intervention, especially in discussing climate change and air pollution. We hope that this ordinance will serve its purpose in protecting our remaining trees in the City," Idis said.

Earlier this year, Idis forwarded the result of the study and participated in drafting the ordinance about the protection and conservation of the remaining heritage and all other trees in the City.

"One of the core purposes of the study is to collect data on the existing heritage trees in the City and utilize it for lobbying for a policy that will ensure its protection," the group said.

"Since there is no enacted local ordinance specifically stating the protection, mainly remaining old city trees, these trees are continuously threatened by infrastructure development," the group added.

Idis said the increasing economic activities contribute to the increasing pressures in resource management, resulting in, but is not limited to, massive urban deforestation and cutting of old and centennial trees such as the Dao Tree along Shrine Hills Road, Sampalok Tree along Chavez St. and the trees in Clifford Park, Roxas Avenue in 2019.

The “Save Heritage Trees” project initiative was conducted through Citizen Science and open public participation in 2020.

The group said the study received 288 submissions and 260 geotagged trees from citizen science volunteers in the city.

“Despite the significant number of trees existing in the urban area of Davao City, these trees still need protection due to persistent threats,” Idis said.

Councilor Diosdado Mahipus Jr, committee chairperson on environment and ordinance proponent, lobbied the Heritage Tree ordinance following the recent protest of some environmental groups who are calling the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Davao City District Engineer's Office to spare the eight trees planted along the sidewalk of Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) Grade school/High school Matina campus from being cut down in late 2020.

In a previous SunStar Davao report, it was revealed that the proposed cutting down of the trees is part of the proposed 405-meter Ma-a Junction flyover project along McArthur highway that may potentially result in road widening and other road improvements. However, the project was terminated early this year.

Idis previously lobbied for the ordinance following the chopping of trees in Clifford Park.

The cutting of trees by the government drew negative comments from environmental groups and netizens.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio apologized to the public shortly after and committed to "carrying out more programs to establish rural and urban green spaces, promote ecological balance, sustainable utilization and management of resources, and to continue raising public awareness of the importance of environmental protection."