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Sacrificing 350 trees to open the gates of hell in Manila

09:32 PM June 11, 2013

There are more or less 350 trees that the Department of Public Works and Highways is eyeing to cut along Lacson Avenue. This is meant to give way to the construction of an infrastructure project, an underpass aimed at easing traffic in the intersection of España and Lacson avenues.

We witnessed the opposition of the residents of Baguio City to the cutting and earth-balling of around 180 trees by one of the largest mall chains in the country. Even if the DPWH would just “earth-ball” the trees, there is no guarantee that they will survive.

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There is a paradox pertaining to the cutting of the 350 trees along Lacson Avenue. The national government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is implementing the National Greening Program (NGP). The program objective is to plant 1.5 billion trees in deforested mountain areas between 2011, the year the program started, and 2016. The NGP will not justify the cutting of the 350 trees for the underpass project. We are talking about two different topographies—urban and forest landscapes! By the way, shouldn’t the program include the non-cutting of trees especially in flood-prone urban areas?

Trees provide us oxygen, they filter pollutants from the air, they serve as shelter from the sweltering heat of the sun. Trees moderate the hot microclimate (i.e., urban heat islands) that the concrete city jungle creates. The cooling effect a single tree is equivalent to 20 air-conditioners. Also, trees absorb the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby mitigating global warming. Moreover, trees are habitat to different species of birds and insects. In addition, the roots of trees, besides holding soil, are a great absorber of rain water and thus mitigate flash floods.

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The question now: Would the proposed underpass provide the above-mentioned benefits? I would like to appeal to all nature-loving citizens of this country: Let’s oppose this move of the government to cut the 350 trees along Lacson Avenue.

I am not against development and progress. But development has two faces: (1) improvement of the people’s quality of because of its pro-environmental or proecological value; this includes clean air and healthy, clean, green surroundings; moderate weather; etc.; and (2) infrastructure (e.g., the proposed underpass) to improve, in this case, mobility convenience.

However, the second promotes more fossil fuel burning as it encourages more vehicles to run along the roads. This will lead to more emission of greenhouse gases and cause further climate warming.

Let us choose the first face of development. We all belong to nature, our evolutionary root. Let us not wait for Mother Nature to strike back. Let us not affirm Dan Brown’s claim.

—MOISES NORMAN Z. GARCIA,

faculty, AMV College of Accountancy,

University of Santo Tomas,

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[email protected]

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TAGS: Dan Brown, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Public Works and Highways, earth-balling, gates of hell, Lacson Avenue, National Greening Program, NGP
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