DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 March) – Sec. 13 of Article XI of Ordinance No. 0546-13 of Davao City states that projects which are of socio-economic and environmental significance should allocate 10% of their total land area (if it is at least one hectare) to green space. Green space, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, refers to land which is partly—if not completely—covered by trees, grass, shrubs and other vegetation. Examples of green spaces include public parks and community gardens.

I agree with groups and individuals opposing an amendment to the ordinance that would do away with the 10% green space.

As all of us must already know, trees and other greeneries not just in the Philippines but also all over the world have continued to decline through the years because of environmental stress factors like insect attacks, adverse weather conditions, climactic changes and the widespread logging and deforestation which, no doubt, continue to happen today, in spite of all the tree planting and other projects aimed at reforestation.

Considering this, perhaps we can say that the ordinance was passed by the City Council in a bid to help the environment in the best way they can. This is why I think that it would be really unwise to amend it plainly because developers think it prevents them from developing 100% of their total land area.

The thought of more subdivisions in Davao looks so enticing. There would be more investors coming to Davao and perhaps before long, the city would be another Manila, or even better. But guess what: many of the residential projects present in the city at the moment are mostly empty.

In fact, sometime ago, Mayor Duterte was reported to have advised investors to temporarily stop investing in the city, saying that it is growing in an excessively fast pace. What’s the point of sacrificing what little green space the city has to build yet more residences which are more likely to be left unfilled for some time?

Maybe 10% may not seem to be a lot for some people. They may think, “what’s with all the fuss?” But the truth is that at this point in time, the world needs as much green spaces as it can have. Not only are these green spaces vital to the improvement of the health of citizens; these can also provide habitats for organisms like bird and fishes (in cases where the green space involves a pond).

Recently however, developers of housing projects appealed to the City Council to have the ordinance amended, reasoning out that it restricted them to develop only 60% of their total land area. Much to the satisfaction of environmentalist groups like the Green Davao Coalition, the mayor of Davao City, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, vetoed the amendment.

Still, they think that it is not enough reason for them to be complacent, since the City Council might override the Mayor’s veto.

For now, all we could do is hope that the appeals of environmental groups may be heard and that the mayor’s veto of the amendment may not be nullified. And as we wait for the council’s final decision, perhaps we could do those little things that may contribute (even just a little) to the development of our environment. These include saving water and electricity, proper waste disposal and joining environmental activities like tree planting.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Andrea Beatrice C. Vaso, 17, is a first year BS Biology student at the University of the Philippines-Mindanao).