Cutting of 84 trees in the City of Naga and San Fernando town to proceed, But no more trees will be replanted by the roadside.
The good news is that government agencies finally agreed yesterday to cut down at least 84 “diseased and decaying” century-old trees by the highway in the City of Naga and San Fernando town.
The bad news is that the affected roadside in south Cebu will be left bare.
Seedlings to replace the century-old trees will be planted far from the road.
The “sanitation cutting” to prevent the trees from toppling on road users and residents will push through starting Tuesday next week.
After wrangling over who would do the cutting and spend for planting 100 seedlings for each cut tree, an agreement was reached to divide the tasks.
“During the (closed door) meeting, there was a deadlock on who would provide the seedlings, so I committed to provide them for Naga and San Fernando,” said the Capitol’s representative Chad Estella.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) -7 which earlier objected to the condition of its tree-cutting permit to replace each tree with 100 more was able to pass on the cost to the Province of Cebu.
DPWH Regional Director Ador Canlas also got his way in insisting that the seedlings not be planted by the roadside, where the century-old trees have offered shade and a green canopy for pedestrians and passing vehicles for decades.
“This will save us from facing the same problem five to ten years from now,” said Canlas, whose agency complained of delays in its road-widening of the Naga segment of the Cebu South Road because the trees were obstructions.
The danger posed by aging, sickly trees was highlighted by the collapse of two nearly century-old Acacias in Carcar City and San Fernando town in the past month, which tied up south Cebu traffic for hours.
An inventory rushed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) showed that immediate cutting has to be done for seven trees in the City of Naga and 77 more in the next town of San Fernando (up from an initial report of 41 trees.)
Decay, damage caused by nails, disease and plain old age were among the reasons for the weakened state of the trees.
The roles of different agencies were threshed out in a closed-door meeting at the DPWH 7 office yesterday attended by representatives of the DPWH, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and local governments.
DPWH 7 will handle the actual cutting with assistance from the Capitol.
The Capitol’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) will supply the seedlings.
The local governments of the City of Naga and San Fernando town will provide sites for the planting, and monitor their growth and maintain them for at least three years.
“Naga City and the local police will help with the traffic flow during the scheduled cutting on August 5,” said Naga City Councilor Carmelino Cruz.
Cutting will start at 9 a.m. and end by 4 p.m. to avoid disrupting the expected passage of students and employees going to and from school and work.
A timberland area in barangay Tuyan, Naga is being eyed.
The Province of Cebu, through PENRO, committed to provide the 700 replacement seedlings for the seven cut trees in the City of Naga.
A schedule for tree-cutting in the next town of San Fernando has yet to be set.
From an initial 41 decayed trees identified for cutting, the number has gone up to 77, said Eduardo Inting, DENR 7’s Forest Management Services Technical Director.
San Fernando town’s situation is different from the City of Naga.
The town has no ongoing DPWH road project affecting the trees so the municipal government will be the one to apply for a DENR tree-cutting permit said San Fernando Municipal Administrator Neil Enriquez.
The town official pledged to plant and take care of the 7,700 replacement seedlings to be provided by the Province of Cebu. A five-hectare site in barangay Magsico will be used.
Estella said PENRO has a target of 1.5 million seedlings to be planted within Cebu province to ensure a steady supply.
“Our commitment is continuing although it has been settled yet since we’ll start with Naga City first. But our commitment is there, we can provide the seedlings as long as it’s properly nurtured by the local government,” Estella said.
While waiting for their turn for DPWH to remove the 77 trees, San Fernando town will “inform officials from seven barangays that the trees may fall down anytime and that people should avoid being near these trees” said San Fernando municipal administrator Neil Enrique.
He said the town has no equipment or expertise to start pruning the trees.
Director Canlas of DPWH said terms will be set in a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to be signed by the parties.
The decision reached yesterday needs formal approval of the local legislatures of the Province and city or municipal councils, “but in principle, it has already been agreed,” he said.
DENR 7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo, who was updated on the outcome, said he agreed with the decision.