‘Tree surgeons’ needed to heal ‘election-inflicted’ wounds
Rudy Fernandez (The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2016 - 12:00am

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines – With the 2016 national elections over, the country needs “tree surgeons.”

Their task: to treat the “wounds” inflicted by politicians and their followers on countless trees that endured campaign materials nailed onto them.

Across the country – especially on busy highways and streets, in parks and plazas – trees have not been spared by election campaigners who nailed and hung their posters on tree trunks and branches.

This was despite government prohibitions against using sharp, solid objects in positioning streamers and tarpaulins on trees.

Even this university town, dubbed a “special science and nature city,” was not spared from such practices of wounding foliage for political purposes.

As the Los Baños-based Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB) once warned, “Hammering nails and staple wires and hanging streamers on trees harm the normal functions and health of living trees.”

The sharp iron objects penetrating the trunks and branches of a tree will subsequently adversely affect it, a former DENR-ERDB official once told The STAR in an interview.

Since a tree is a living organism, it will “feel the pain” of a hard object driven into it.

Some trees can survive the wounds, if small, but others eventually will not if the hard objects stuck into them are big and the injuries they cause serve as entry point of decay-causing microorganisms.

The nails and other hard objects should be removed. If not, these eventually rust and create “metal stress” in the tree’s trunk.

“The rust and stains react with the tannic acid and other chemical compounds in the wood, resulting in the tree’s decreased resistance to decay,” ERDB pointed out.

Any decay or damage on a tree hampers the flow of water and nutrients from the roots to the upper parts, and vice versa. The tree will not have enough supply of water and nutrients to sustain its needs. The tree’s health then suffers and, at worst, the tree dies.

Campaign materials, especially heavy ones such as tarpaulins, are added burdens to a tree.

As forest pathologist Marcelita Pacho said, “It is unfair to trees if campaigns will make them carry posters of candidates during a long campaign period.”

Thus, there is a need for “tree surgeons” to save the trees from prolonged pain or wounds and eventually death.

The STAR gathered that there are DENR science research specialists whose task, among other things, is to conduct “tree surgery.” Such personnel have been trained for the special chore.

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with