“The Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office has assisted the BRT project unit sa pag marking sa affected trees. Humana og marking tanan. Next is the public hearing,” said former councilor Ma. Nida Cabrera, the current administration’s point person of environment matters.
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To be cut or moved: BRT affects 2,166 trees
Jean Marvette A. Demecillo, Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - May 2, 2017 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - At least 2,166 trees in 21 barangays in Cebu City will be cut or moved once the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit system will be put in place.

These trees can be seen along the 23-kilometer route of the BRT project from Barangay Bulacao in the southwestern end of the city to Barangay Talamban in the north.

“The Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office has assisted the BRT project unit sa pag marking sa affected trees. Humana og marking tanan. Next is the public hearing,” said former councilor Ma. Nida Cabrera, the current administration’s point person of environment matters.

The P10.6 billion BRT project is seen to address the worsening traffic situation in the city.

Cabrera said she was tapped by BRT project manager Rafael Christopher Yap to inform barangays and other stakeholders about the public hearing on May 17 at City Hall’s social hall.

In a press release, Yap said all interested persons and organizations are welcome to attend the public hearing so that all sentiments will be considered.

Yap said among the trees that will be affected include 665 narra trees, 486 Indian trees, 203 mahogany trees, 197 ipil-ipil trees, and 471 fire trees.

“Everything will be presented during the public hearing. Ang public hearing is needed para pagpahibaw sa affected barangays, although duna na miy initial nga pahibalo nila. Nagpatawag ta sa mga constituents including the non-government organizations, mga peoples organizations kung naa silay questions we can address. We will be presenting also our greening plan based sa affected trees,” Cabrera said.

She said the trees that need to be moved will be transferred to open spaces like parks or riverbanks. These will be moved through the process called earthballing in which the roots will remain protected by soil in the form of a ball to ensure the trees will not die in the process.

There are century-old trees that will be affected.

“The Project Implementation Unit will discuss the extent of the affected trees, outline the measures to be taken to alleviate the impact, and listen to the sentiments of stakeholders during the public hearing,” Yap said in a statement.

He said his team can send its presentation during the public hearing to stakeholders who will not be able to attend.

Comments should be submitted on or before May 31.

“The public hearing is in compliance with the requirements for the tree cutting permits. It is also a requirement in the ECC (Environmental Certificate Compliance),” Cabrera said.

Among the 21 barangays affected by the BRT project are Bulacao, Capitol Site, Lahug, Apas, and Talamban.

The BRT route will pass four intersections: Osmeña Boulevard/Colon Street, V. Rama Avenue/M. Velez Street, M.J. Cuenco Avenue/J. Luna Avenue; and Gorordo Avenue/Salinas Drive.

Pocket lanes will be built in different locations in the city.

Comment

Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, co-founder of the Philippine Earth Justice Center, said Cebu never learns.

"We never learn, don't we? Cebu, with its less than 1 percent forest cover, would still have the heart to destroy the trees," Ramos said.

Ramos said landslides and flooding are now realities that should require everyone to ask how they can mitigate the impacts of climate change.

"Definitely not by destroying our vanishing trees and the biodiversity they host and the multiple ecosystem services provided us for free," Ramos said.

Liza Osorio, co-founder of PEJC, believes the BRT can help address a number of issues, foremost of which is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport, which largely contribute to increasing CO2 in the atmosphere.

"Hence, a healthy compromise is needed, and if no environmental laws are violated, we will support this initiative," Osorio said.

Greening Project

Cabrera said the city will present the approved greening project proposal for which the national government will use P35 million. The greening project will involve the planting of 350,000 saplings in designated areas. 

In the proposal, the city will plant 30,000 commercial fruit crops saplings and 320,000 indigenous and forest tree seedlings and saplings within the forest management areas of the city.

“The campaign for massive planting and production of fruit and forest trees will also help in the greening of the environment which have been affected by the rapid growth and development and reduce the negative effects of global warming and climate change. The uncertain impact of climate change posed a very big and real challenge in our growing city,” the proposal reads.

Cabrera said the city will plant cacao, guyabano, coffee lemoncito, forest, and indigenous trees. The project will start this year until 2022.

As of now, the city has started establishing nurseries in 10 barangays where saplings will be stored. Each nursery can accommodate 35,000 seedlings.

“In preparation to address the ECC (Environmental Certificate Compliance) compliance sa BRT, ang Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CCENRO) assists them in putting up a nursery. So we submitted our proposal to BRT. Its already approved sa side ni mayor. So, that’s why after that we have identified 10 barangays to assist the compliance of BRT. So identified na sad. Humana, in cooperation with DENR CCENRO and BRT team. We were able to tag the subjected trees for removal and ball out,” she said.

These nurseries were established in barangays Sirao, Taptap, Sudlon II, Guba, Busay,Tagbao, Tabunan, Buhisan, Toong, and Adlaon.

Cabrera said all the developed saplings and seedlings from the nurseries will be planted in the areas identified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

She said Mayor Tomas Osmeña has signed the proposal and it was also approved by BRT Implementing project unit. (FREEMAN)

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