Plant as many trees, indigenous or not, now

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Dr. J.H. Primavera is not the first person I have heard of who is critical of planting mahogany and other exotic trees because of its supposed toxic substance (Inquirer, 2/14/13). We at the Trees for Life Foundation do not begrudge such people for espousing such views.

We simply wish to point out that Executive Order No. 26 (National Greening Program) seeks to plant 1.5 billion trees in six years. Simple arithmetic, to borrow President Aquino’s term, dictates that for the program to succeed it must plant 250 million trees a year. Recently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources proudly announced that it has planted its 200 millionth tree. However, June 2013 being the third year of the program, 750 million trees should have thus far been planted. Clearly, therefore, the program has already a deficit of 550 million trees and if the trend continues by the end of the program on May 2016, the program would dismally fall short by 1.1 billion trees.

We propose, therefore, that exponents of indigenous and native trees continue with their preference and let those who wish to plant any other tree species go ahead with their own. Contrary to Primavera’s proposition, at this point in time and for the purpose of EO 26, what is essential is quantity more than quality. When EO 26 is accomplished then everybody can concentrate on planting indigenous trees. After all, there will never be an end for the need to plant trees.

Trees mitigate climate change; they are a source of food, clothing, shelter, medicine and they produce oxygen that man needs to survive. Indeed, there would be no life on earth if there were no trees.

—NELIA FUENTEBELLA,

executive director,

Trees for Life Foundation,

Makati City

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