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Cebu News

Rules on earth-balling, cutting of trees pushed

Mary Ruth R. Malinao - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera has proposed an ordinance providing for the regulation of earth-balling, cutting, or removal of trees within the city whether for residential, commercial, or public purpose.

The proposed measure entitled “Earth Balling, Cutting, and Removal of Trees Ordinance of Cebu City” was referred to the Committee on Laws, Ordinances, and Styling as well as to the Committee on Environment for review.

Its objectives are to coordinate and harmonize the thrusts, programs, strategies and directions of the local government through the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CCENRO) and other government/non-government agencies/instrumentalities for the enhancement of the quality of the environment; to preserve trees and other vegetation of genetic, aesthetic, cultural ecological and/or historical importance and those that are treatment; and to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaption initiatives.

Section 4 provides the ordinance shall cover all activities for earth-balling, cutting, and removal of trees within the territorial jurisdiction of the city regardless of whether such is for a residential, commercial, or public purpose, and the number of trees to be removed. This shall apply to any development whether for a private or public purpose.

Section 6 states for purpose of proper monitoring of the trees planted within the city, an inventory of existing “Flora” shall be made to ensure their protection and reservation.

CCENRO is mandated to conduct tree tagging/numbering of all the trees planted and create a corresponding database for proper inventory and easy monitoring.

Section 7 states that before a request for the approval of earth-balling, cutting, or removal of trees may be granted to an applicant and before the Sangguniang Panlungsod enacts a legislation interposing no objection for the said activity, the procedure and requirements spelled out in the ordinance must first be complied with such as application for removal of trees with documentation before the CCENRO, sketch map showing the location of the trees to be earth balled, construction or project plan and sufficient justification as to why it is not possible for trees to be incorporated in the said plan.

Generally, trees, both planted and naturally-growing, with diameter of 15 centimeters and below, may be earth-balled, provided that only healthy trees shall be earth balled and transplanted; the immediate environment or surrounding of the affected tree is free from any structures or impediments to support digging and moving operation; and there shall be suitable and available site for the transplanting of earth balled trees to guarantee its continuous growth and/or survival.

Section 9 also provides that upon the approval of the earth-balling of trees, the applicant must secure a bond in the amount of P10,000 per tree to be earth-balled for a period of two years after the said approval to ensure the transfer and survival of the affected trees.

Permit shall be issued by CCENRO only after submission of the requirements as prescribed under the ordinance.

Section 12 also provides that the cutting of trees shall only be allowed as a last resort such as when earth balling is not practicable or that the trees cannot be incorporated with the design of a proposed project without adversely affecting the infrastructure or when the said trees poses danger to the life and limb of the public and there is necessity for such to be immediately removed.

Once approved, the ordinance shall be primarily enforced by CCENRO, provided that before the said office may approve a request for the removal of trees, it must first submit an inspection report to the City Council through the Committee on Environment for the approval of the said body.

All fees and penalties collected pursuant to the ordinance shall be divided as follows: 50 percent shall go to an Environmental Trust Fund and the remaining 50 percent shall go to the General Fund of the city; and fees and penalties that will accrue to the Environmental Trust Fund will augment the funding of all environmental programs and projects of the CCENRO and other agencies concerned.

The non-compliance and violation of any provision in the ordinance shall be punishable by imprisonment not exceeding six months and/or a penalty of not exceeding P5,000, at the discretion of the courts. — FPL (FREEMAN)

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