THE last few days of this year may have us rattled by Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai), but here in the locality floodings top our environmental stories for this year. And the rest follows:

1. Clogged drainage causes street flooding in Davao

In the evening of April 10, Davao City experienced a heavy downpour that caused street flooding almost all over the Poblacion areas and even in some places in the north and the south of the city.

Davao City officials blamed the street flooding for the clogged drainage, but Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio reiterated that there have been drainage projects and interventions that were made to address this flooding yet it still happens in other areas.

The incident pushed for some local environmentalists to lobby for the policymakers to "integrate 'more sustainable, resilient, disaster-adaptive development, and more environment-responsive' policies."

2. Bunawan residents blame knee-deep flood to blocked waterway

Another flooding story that made headlines in Sunstar Davao is the one experienced by the northern part of the city residents.

The heavy downpour on April 26 resulted in knee-deep flooding that lasted for a day and were experienced by some puroks in Bunawan. This has even caused some residents to be evacuated in safer areas but were soon went back to their homes after the water subsided.

3. Waist-high flood in Davao; no casualties recorded

Another flooding incident in Davao City was recorded on October 25 where around 400 families were affected and hundreds of commuters and motorists left stranded on the city's streets.

The heavy downpour accompanied with heavy rains, which was pointed to be caused by Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), also resulted in emergency power interruption in some downtown areas.

4. Flood affects 967 families in Davao and Davao City evacuates 9,000 families due to flood

A month before December, Davao City experienced yet another flooding incident and stories relating to this incident made headlines because several families were affected and a little less than 10,000 families were evacuated.

The Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) attributed the heavy downpour on November 9 that caused the flooding to the "tail-end of the frontal system" or the boundary between the easterlies and the northeast monsoon or Hanging Amihan.

Davao City's Social Welfare and Development Office head Lawyer Marlisa Gallo said that as of 6 p.m. of November 10, a total of 13 barangays were affected, namely, Barangays 2-A with 894 affected families, 5-A with 1,325 affected families, 8-A with 1,300 affected families, 9-A with 918 affected families, 10-A with 679 affected families, 19-B with 449 affected families, Maa with 959 affected families, Matina Crossing with 1,403 affected families, Tigatto with 1,490 affected families, Waan with 457 affected families, Bantol with five affected families, Buda with 48 affected families and Tamugan with 40 affected families.

However, there were also good environmental news that were made headlines this year, such as:

1. Davao City Council passes Heritage Tree Ordinance

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

The proponent for the Heritage Tree Ordinance, Councilor Diosdado Mahipus Jr., who is also the committee chairperson on environment, lobbied the 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.

2. Groups call to halt cutting of 121-year-old tree at Marilog eagles’ nesting site

A more-than-century-old tree at Mounts Makabol-Alikoson Conservation Area (MMACA) in Barangay Salaysay, Marilog District was already mulled for cutting down to give way for "logging and development" by the landowner. However, on December 2, Sunstar Davao featured a story about the city environment groups urging Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to revoke the permit for cutting down a tree which is considered to be "an ancient nesting site" of the Philippine eagle.

The environmental groups also launched a signature campaign which aims to affirm the area's designation as an "environmentally critical area" under the Davao City Watershed Management Code, in accordance with Ordinance No. 0310-07, and also "improve MMACA's protection as a conservation area."

After it was featured that several environmentalists call for the halt in the planned cutting of a century-old tree, the City Government of Davao immediately gave its support to the environmental groups and sent a letter to the office of the Regional Director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Davao (DENR-Davao) on December 7 saying the City Government supports the appeal of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and the Sustainable Davao Movement (SDM) to cancel the timber cutting permit issued by DENR in favor of a certain Ling Ling Wu Lee in Sitio Falcata.

Another supporter for the cancellation of the permit to cut a century-old tree was an American wildlife scientist, one of the pioneers of captive-breeding of Philippine Eagles in the country.

Dr. James Grier, professor emeritus in North Dakota State University, said in a statement issued on December 9, 2021 that they support the petition to cancel the tree cutting permit in Mts. Makabol-Alikoson Conservation Area (MMACA), Salaysay, Davao City.

His and the calls from several environmental groups, including the office of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, moved DENR-Davao to issue a suspension order for the tree cutting permit.

3. Landowner won't cut trees in 'ancient nesting site' of eagles in Marilog

THE landowner whose area is located in “conservation and environmental critical area” in Marilog District had voluntarily stopped the cutting of the century-old trees in response to the criticisms and petition from locals, DENR said in a statement.

DENR-Davao Director Bagani Fidel Evasco said on December 8 that his office will be issuing a suspension order to the Private Land Timber Permit (PLTP) dated August 18, 2021 and issued to landowner Ling-Ling Wu Lee.

However, Evasco said Lee has already desisted from cutting over a hundred trees located in Sitio Falcata, Macabol, Barangay Salaysay in Marilog.

Lee reportedly applied for the cutting of 22 agoho, four bagtikan, 15 lauan, 44 tanguile, and 36 ulian trees with diameters ranging from 40 to 85 centimeters and an estimated harvestable volume of 131.06 cubic meters. The owner wanted to chop off the trees for land development purposes.

In response to the issue, he said DENR will coordinate with the City Government to validate and clarify if the areas and titled properties in Sitio Falcata are covered on the declared conservation area.

In addition, the office will also monitor and validate the area with regards to it being a nesting and roosting site of the Philippine Eagle.

"DENR XI (Davao Region) office remains committed to rendering public service with utmost quality and integrity and shall always consider the welfare of the general public to be balanced with our wildlife conservation measures especially the Philippine Eagles and the forest ecosystem functions as a whole," the official said.

Other environmental stories that made headlines are generally about face masks and face shields found their way to watersheds in Davao City, where volunteers to guard and protect the watersheds and the mountains who call themselves Bantay Bukid continue to collect.