Unsustainable development | Inquirer Opinion

Unsustainable development

12:02 AM January 24, 2017

This is in reaction to the news report about the projected removal of 1,858 trees along Commonwealth Avenue to give way to MRT 7 (“1,858 trees must go for MRT 7,” Metro, 1/20/17).

When Assistant Director Sofio Quintana of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-National Capital Region was interviewed by the media, he said that 1,215 trees with a height of 10 meters (30 feet) to 15 meters (45 feet) would be cut, 623 earth-balled, and 20 pruned. Also, 528 trees or 28 percent of the 1,858 trees are “premium” species, meaning, these are endangered or on the brink of extinction.

Given their height, the trees that would be cut or sacrificed are already mature. Obviously, a mature tree “sequesters” from the environment more carbon dioxide than a seedling does; on this score, not even as many as 100 seedlings can collectively replace one, single fallen mature tree. Also, depending on the type of tree species, it would take several decades for a seedling to reach maturity, not to mention the reality of climate change causing strong tropical cyclones that uproot and kill trees.

It is ecologically sound to replace fallen trees with seedlings planted either in the country’s degraded rainforests or in some parts of the city, but time is of the essence. Trees in the metropolis mitigate urban heat and air pollution, and calm the minds of city dwellers. Also, they provide the very precious commodity without which we will die within three minutes—oxygen.


So, we cannot understand why the good assistant director mentioned that he “loves trees,” but sees these trees along MRT 7 as an “eyesore.”

Also, cutting trees means releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing significantly to global warming.

And depending on their species, earth-balled trees have a very slim chance of survival in a new environment. Monocots like coconut and other palm trees can survive earth-balling, but not dicots like narra trees.

Numerous photos in the internet show the value of trees: Trees have been spared, by applying ingenious architectural or engineering designs in the construction of houses, buildings and even highways. It is a fact that many highways have been redesigned or “rerouted” to prevent the cutting of even just a single tree.


In the case of MRT 7, the project contractor should come up with another design to save these trees. Commonwealth is a very wide avenue, like Edsa. Why not move the railway a little to the left or right of the road to preserve the trees? If trees could only talk!

If Inquirer columnist Neal Cruz were alive today, he would have written a piece condemning MRT 7’s “unsustainable” engineering design.


MOISES NORMAN Z. GARCIA, PhD, MARIA ROSARIO VIRGINIA COBAR-GARCIA, PhD, research associates, Research Center for Social Sciences & Education, University of Santo Tomas

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TAGS: Commonwealth Avenue, letter, Letter to the Editor, MRT 7, opinion, Tree, tree-cutting, trees

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