Groups set tagging activity to prevent trees from being uprooted

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 October) – Environment groups will label 672 trees along Dacudao Avenue to highlight their opposition to the plan to uproot them to make way for the expansion of a drainage canal.

In an interview Monday at the sidelines of the weekly Kapehan sa SM media forum, Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) executive director Mary Ann Fuertes said the tagging activity would be participated by the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro), as well as other environment and school organizations.

She said IDIS was still preparing the materials and contacting those who may want to join the event.

Fuertes said IDIS opposed the city government’s idea of uprooting trees along Dacudao Avenue in favor of improving the riprap structure as a disaster mitigation project.

“Why don’t they prioritize the projects with immediate needs instead?”

City government agencies have been debating among themselves if the trees had caused flooding in areas from Obrero to Agdao or if these can help solve the flooding.

Fuertes said IDIS agreed with the position of Cenro that the trees did not need uprooting for the repair of the riprap along Dacudao Avenue.

In a presentation to different stakeholders last Friday, Cenro representatives said the damaged portions of the riprap did not have tree roots protruding along its sides, contrary to earlier claims by the City Engineer’s Office and the Task Force Drainage.

Cenro was quick to point out that the drainage system was a “poor quality structure” and that the trees were not to be blame.

“Though it is true that the root system will compromise some edifice, but in the case of Dacudao Main Drain, it is not the main reason of failure of structure but rather due to dilapidation and poor quality of work,” the Cenro presentation said.

“The root system will help stabilize the ground and prevent ground collapse and erosion, even if there is no riprap along waterways.”

Fuertes said earthballing was also out of the question, since the trees planted along the drainage had root systems that would die if they were to be removed and replanted elsewhere.

“This is a project that was 20 years in the making,” she said, adding there was no need to improve what was not damaged.

IDIS said they were willing to help the city government find possible solutions.

According to Fuertes, the trees include narra, molave, and neem, and numbered at least 672.

“The trees there should also be appreciated for its other ecological values, like air purification, soil capacity, shade, and aesthetical and sentimental value,” she said.

A bicycle group, meanwhile, rode along the avenue in a “treehuggers ride” held earlier this month and tied blue ribbons to each tree.

Last week, Task Force Drainage chair Yusop Jimlani said it was premature for groups to complain about the planned cutting of trees along the 17,000-hectare drainage structure along Dacudao Avenue.

Jimlani was reacting to Facebook posts criticizing the city government for supposedly choosing to cut down trees to solve a drainage problem.

He said the City Engineer’s Office has been allotted P16 million for Dacudao Avenue.

He clarified that the communication among the city’s agencies was limited to asking their suggestions about the trees.

He said the City Legal Office viewed cutting down the trees as legal, based on Presidential Decree 953, which allows it in the interest of public safety.

But he admitted the same law also provides that other methods such as pruning and trimming may also be considered. (MindaNews)