Saving hundred-year old trees prevail on highway projects in Bicol
LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 17 — The strong concerned citizen support and clamor for tree conservation, many over hundred years old, in highways prevail in Bicol road widening projects.
The Department of Public Works and Highways here now follows the “tree line” to preserve trees in widening road projects in the region, an agency official said last weekend.
Bicol public works information officer Lucy Castaneda said the move is in response to the opposition against the cutting of trees in Naga City’s highway, which was planned for conversion into four lanes.
Concerned residents of other areas where road improvements are being done with trees lined along the sides have also complained of the cutting of trees.
Castañeda said the move to preserve mature trees, many over hundred years old, in the highways was to solve the delay in the road expansion, which is part of the Asian economic integration pact with the Philippines’ highway assigned the code AH26 or Asian Highway 26.
The project adjustment is implemented in places where opposition to tree-cutting is present and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) do not issue permit to cut trees.
Castañeda said that in places where there are no oppositions like Sorosogon City, the four-lane highway expansion will be fully implemented.
The cutting of trees along the proposed road-widening project in Naga City was opposed by civil society groups, the city government of Naga and several members of the provincial board in 2013.
Lawyer Arnel Rodriguez, then provincial environment and natural resources officer (Penro) in Camarines Sur, decided to save the trees after consultation on July 8, 2013 between DPWH representatives and conservationists.
In a memorandum on July 15, 2013, Rodriguez saved 651 old trees from being cut along the more than seven-km span of the Maharlika Highway’s planned Php100-million road-widening project of the DPWH.
He said the cutting of trees was not an option as the growing of trees took years but it just take minutes to cut.
Rodriguez recalls the Philippine government spent millions of pesos to have a green environment on support programs like ordinary roadside tree planting, Luntiang Pilipinas and Green Philippine Highways.
The Green Philippine Highways is a project of the environment department launched in August 2006 as a massive planting of trees along the country’s three major highways, including the Maharlika Highway or the 2,176-km. Pan Philippine Highway.
Rodriguez gave weight to the benefits of the 651 trees planned to be cut along the highway of Naga City, including the production of oxygen, air-filter action, capacity to reduce heat and absorb air pollutants.