BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – This city is set to go on an “aggressive re-greening and beautification movement” after urban development over the past several years has reduced the forest cover ratio to one pine tree per resident.
Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong has appointed lawyer Rhenan Diwas as assistant officer of the City Environment and Parks Management Office (Cepmo), the point person for this massive re-greening movement.
Magalong said that instead of random tree planting, the Cepmo’s task would be systematic and scientific.
He said that they would first target the areas near the city’s watersheds. In the next months, this would mean the greening of the villages of Burnham Park-Legarda, Bayan Park East, Bayan Park Village, and Salud Mitra.
“Our aim is to plant not only pine trees but also trees and plants of various species in a more organized way and not just indiscriminately,” Diwas said.
Diwas said they would also convert and maintain feasible areas in forest reservations into picnic or hiking sites.
The city will also use for the regreening plan the tracts of forested land identified as a protected zone in the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) of the city.
Diwas said that these would be converted as eco-parks not only to provide green areas for residents but to prevent land speculators from coming in.
City Planning and Development Coordinator Evelyn Cayat said the public lands covered with pine trees have a larger aggregate area than the city’s parks.
Cayat gave assurances that the tracts of land had not been titled as the titling procedure would require that documents pass through her office for the issuance of the mandatory clearance.
She added that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources had been properly informed of the existence and situation of these protected zones being part of the CLUP documents furnished the agency, and it is assumed that the agency would also work for their protection.
The inventory will be turned over to the Cepmo for the adoption of measures to protect the land from encroachers.
Magalong also urged concerned department heads to work out the reservation of available lots in the city for development as tree nurseries.
“We need to set aside more lots for tree nurseries. Let’s build as many nurseries as possible. It is for our own benefit,” he said.
He asked Cepmo Officer-in-Charge Moises Lozano to develop available lots and turn them into propagation sites for trees and plants for use of the barangays and the public in tree-planting activities and watershed and forest conservation programs.
“That is one strategic plan that will never fail us. It will benefit our city in terms of protecting and revitalizing our environment,” Magalong said.
The city government had been taking measures to protect its iconic pine trees. This week, it announced that it would sue a real estate company after the city forestry division found 9 matured Benguet pine trees which were slowly being killed within their property.
In February, DENR chief Roy Cimatu himself expressed concern that the city’s pine trees were “dying” and that steps should be taken to ensure the survival of Baguio’s pine tree population. – Rappler.com