An option

By: Editorial May 16,2017 - 09:30 PM

Whatever comes out of today’s public hearing on the cutting/earthballing of trees along the route of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, one thing is sure: the long gestating project won’t be suspended if only to spare the trees from being cut.

Environmentalists would certainly want the trees along the BRT route to be spared, not even earthballed, but they would be inviting public criticism and even derision if they lobby to have the project suspended until plans were made and a commitment to spare the trees was signed on by all parties concerned.

For one thing, the city government has made it clear that it prefers to have the trees cut rather than spend money to earthball all of the affected trees, the cost of which may run to millions of pesos.

Hence, former Cebu City councilor and now City Hall environmental consultant Nida Cabrera’s active push to have city residents who are especially concerned about the trees adopt them and have them planted in their backyards or properties.

In a sense, the program is the city government’s way of telling city residents, especially those who profess a love for the environment, to put their money where their mouth is and provide a home for the trees they are so concerned about.

Then there is Cabrera’s assurance that the trees, or at least those that can be considered worth saving, will be earthballed and placed in tree nurseries where they can still continue to thrive and provide shelter to the nearby communities, if any.

We don’t know if Cabrera’s announcement is backed by the administration, but we do know that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office made its stance quite clear when it said that it preferred to have the trees earthballed rather than systematically cut down and sold as firewood to the lucky loggers.

There are trees that are decades old that may not survive the earthballing process and so will have to go. But the adopt-a-tree program may save a number of trees, just not the great majority of them that had seen better days and are expected to be cut down to make way for the BRT project.

We hope that a lot of the stakeholders will show up in force to make their voices heard on this issue if only to see whether Cebu City still has a heart for its trees.

We hope they can convince the powers that be to fund the earthballing of these aging trees that somehow helped beautify Osmeña Boulevard and make the air cleaner for the residents amid the pollution of vehicles.

True, we need the BRT to provide the city residents a better mass transport option. But surely there is a way to preserve the trees lining up its route without cutting all of them down.

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TAGS: affected, BRT, criticism, option, project, residents

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