Cebu News

DENR says DPWH must follow permit conditions before cutting all Naga trees

Marigold Lebumfacil - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - An environment official said yesterday that there are 12 conditions to be seriously complied before a special tree cutting permit (STCP) can be issued to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-7 for its road widening project in the City of Naga, Cebu.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo said 16 century-old acacia or rain trees (Samanea saman) covered under DPWH’s STCP should be left in place and not removed unless it complies with all requirements.

The 16 trees should not be cut down as they would be subjected to further tree surgery, correct pruning and rehabilitation of decayed branches and stubs.

The DPWH needs to remove all the trees, which have been the subject of recent protests by environment and nature advocates, so its road widening project could proceed.

In all, DPWH is set to either cut or earth-ball 155 trees, 25 of which are old acacia trees with diameter of 99 to 226 centimeters.  Of the 25, nine were considered as “defective and hazardous.”

“Our office has granted an STCP numbered R7-05-09302013 consistent with and in conformity to the Sept. 10, 2013 clearance issued by DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Demetrio Ignacio Jr., with very clear terms and conditions to be fully followed by the DPWH-7 as a permittee,” Montejo said.

“The regional office cannot solely grant a tree cutting permit without the clearance from the DENR central office or the Office of the Undersecretary for Field Operations,” he added.

DPWH-7 is currently undertaking road expansion projects along N. Bacalso Ave. in Cebu City and the Naga-Carcar section of the south road.

Based on the permit Montejo signed, as cleared by Ignacio, some 42 trees, including eight century-old acacia trees that is already in advanced stage of decay and clearly posing danger to life and property, would be cut down.

Of the 42 trees, 34 are 26 centimeters and above in diameter.  DENR-7 has set that at least 96 trees with diameters of 25 centimeters and below should be earth-balled.

Montejo indicated in the STCP that prior to cutting the trees, DPWH-7 should submit a certification from the barangay captains of the concerned barangays of Tina-an, Inuboran and Langtad in the City of Naga stating that they do not object to the cutting of trees.

 Also, DPWH-7 must conduct public consultations with concerned stakeholders in the area to discuss the importance of the project, removal of trees affected, replacement of trees to be removed, and other related concerns.

 Prior to cutting and earth-balling of affected trees, DENR-7 must likewise secure an environmental compliance certificate (ECC); conduct an assessment of the trees in terms of biodiversity, carbon sequestration potential and water storage capacity; and identify mitigation measures to address the negative impacts of the trees’ removal.

 In addition, a four feet by eight feet billboard shall be installed within the area where the trees would be removed informing the public that the operation, is authorized by the DENR, with details as to how many trees would either be removed or earth-balled.

 Another condition is that the cutting of the trees should be supervised by the DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO)-Cebu City and by the City of Naga. The trees and other derivable wood materials should also be turned over to the DENR-7 at the DPWH-7’s expense for proper disposition based on existing guidelines.

“I will constitute a special team with Naga City LGU (local government unit) and other stakeholders to monitor and supervise the operation, as soon as we have the schedule of activities from the DPWH,” Montejo said.

“A total of 13,800 indigenous or native seedlings have to be planted and grown to be maintained for a period of three years with 80 percent survival rate, with instructions that replacement planting shall be initiated prior to the tree cutting,” he likewise said.

 On the earth-balling of trees, he said it shall be DPWH’s obligation to transplant the trees and maintain and protect them for a period of at least three years.

Another condition is that every transplanted tree that does not survive after six months, DPWH-7 shall conduct replacement planting at a ratio of 1:100, as prescribed under DENR Memorandum Order No. 2012-02.

 â€œThe permit shall expire within six months upon receipt or as soon as the volume authorized is exhausted, whichever comes first,” Montejo said.—(FREEMAN)

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