A DAVAO City-based environmental group is urging the swift enforcement of the Heritage Tree Ordinance in response to recent tree-cutting activities in Ecoland.
Lemuel Lloyd I. Manalo, program coordinator of Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis), conveyed this message during a phone interview with SunStar on the afternoon of September 20.
Manalo emphasized the organization's commitment to expeditiously implement the Heritage Tree Ordinance, particularly in light of the tree-cutting incident near the Davao City Overland Transport Terminal (Dcott).
Many Dabawenyo netizens expressed concern about the tree removal, noting that it is crucial in mitigating the city's rising heat and humidity levels. Some online users even argued that the trees did not significantly affect local traffic.
Manalo questioned the tree-cutting process, specifically whether a permit authorized it. He emphasized that this would be considered illegal, as only the Davao City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) can issue such permits.
Before granting permission for tree cutting, Cenro and DENR evaluate whether the trees pose an obstruction and whether their removal is necessary due to safety concerns.
“Apil to na dapat na naay tree cutting permit that is one question ba noh if naa ba ni siya if it went through a process (That is one of the questions on whether they have a tree cutting permit and if it went through a process)," Manalo said.
He underscored the importance of ensuring that tree-cutting permits are properly issued and that a notice is posted by the permit holder, allowing concerned citizens to voice objections or provide testimony if needed.
The Heritage Ordinance, known as City Ordinance Number 0784-21 Series of 2021, aims to preserve trees that significantly benefit the city and the environment.
Manalo explained that the legislation covers trees in the city, particularly those that provide shade, cooling, and temperature reduction in their surroundings. He noted that the government is currently working on identifying heritage trees, and many of the old trees in Ecoland may qualify for such recognition.
"Paspason ang pag implement ani or pag identify sa mga heritage trees kay nagapadugay nagapadaghan ang sigeg pamutol noh because of many reasons from widening to obstruction of the utility post (We need to expedite the ordinance's implementation and heritage tree identification due to the increasing rate of tree cutting for various reasons, such as road widening and utility post obstructions)," he added.
Manalo emphasized the necessity of environmental cooperation in light of the ongoing climate crisis. Cutting down a tree should be a last resort, and structures should be designed to avoid the need for such actions or causing harm to the environment. Nature should be an integral part of infrastructure planning. RGP