By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has justified the issuance of a tree-cutting permit to clear the roadside of Naga and Carcar cities in Cebu province.
DENR Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia said the trees have to be removed because these already encroach the highway, including carriageways and sidewalks, thus endangering the lives of motorists and nearby residents.
“If we have the diseased trees there, standing where the expanded highway or street is, it will pose danger to vehicles and there will be vehicular accidents,” Garcia said.
He added that these trees also contribute to the already bad traffic condition in metro Cebu which has narrow roadways.
“We see the necessity of expanding the road networks here in Cebu, basically to help ease the lives of the people by making their transport faster,” he said during the International Federation of Landscape Architects-Asia Pacific Region Congress held in Cebu City.
The DENR official also cited the recommendation of a pathologist, who checked on the health condition of the trees, to cut them down because these are already dying and have become host to pests and diseases.
He emphasized that the government protects century-old trees through the heritage tree project (HTP), but not those which are situated along highways and have become hazard to public safety.
Under the HTP, the DENR coordinates with communities and institutions to protect and save mature trees in highly-urbanized areas by designating them as “heritage trees.”
Last October 25, DENR, through its regional office in Central Visayas, conducted a consultation with the Cebu provincial government and Department of Public Works and Highways in Region 7.
During the consultation, DENR representatives discussed the agency’s tree replacement program wherein it commits to plant 100 trees in exchange for each tree that will be cut down.