Idis: Cutting down of 200 trees justified by ‘progress’

Local environment group dismayed over the cutting of around 200 trees ‘in the name of progress’
Idis: Cutting down of 200 trees justified by ‘progress’

A DAVAO City-based environmental group was dismayed over the cutting down of around 200 trees in Lanang, Davao City to make way for the Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) Project.

Atty. Mark Peñalver, executive director of Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis), told SunStar Davao on Sunday morning, May 12, 2024, that with the heat index reaching up to 40 to 45 degrees Celsius, “every tree counts.” 

He added that it is unfortunate that environmental destruction was justified just for the sake of progress.

“There is nothing progressive in causing damage to the environment, which eventually impacts both human and natural life. Progress can be ecologically sustainable, too. It’s just a matter of how we plan things and weigh in the benefits and impacts,” he said. 

Peñalver said that everybody wants development and progress, but it should be environmentally sound. He said urban trees are vital in helping absorb air pollutants, provide natural cooling to mitigate the rising urban heat, and reduce water run-off.

The environmental group leader also highlighted that the City Government of Davao has a local ordinance number 0784-21 series of 2021, otherwise known as the Heritage Ordinance, which aims to preserve trees that significantly benefit the city and the environment. The legislation covers trees in the city, particularly those that provide shade, cooling, and temperature reduction in their surroundings. He emphasized that with this ordinance, the city should look at whether proper consultations were conducted before trees were cut off.

He also lamented the reasoning of some people that it was only right to cut down those trees since those were Mahogany trees anyway and not beneficial to the ecosystem.

“Sige mananom na lang ta’g Mahogany or exotic trees sa urban area para ma-justify if putlon nato ang mga kahoy puhon kung naa nasad musulod nga project (Okay, let’s just plant Mahogany or exotic trees in the urban area so in the future we can justify cutting trees when another project would be implemented),” he said.

He stressed that whether the trees are Mahogany or other exotic trees, they are still helping the environment combat air pollution and reduce water run-off. However, he explained that exotic trees should be discouraged in tree-planting activities, particularly if the purpose is to bring back biodiversity in urban spaces. 

He urged that the local government units of Davao and Samal should investigate the project and review the plans, adding that Idis would continue to raise awareness of the bridge's effects on the environment and people. 

A notice posted in the area stated that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Community Environment Natural Resources Office-Davao Region (DENR-Cenro-Davao) has issued a cutting permit for the 199 trees.

The cutting permit number was DENRXI-DC-0321-2024-017 and was approved on March 21, 2024. The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Unified Project Management Office Bridges Management Cluster requested the permit. RGP

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