Editorial: Hazardous trees in schools

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Friday, August 22, 2014

IF THERE is one positive thing that the controversy over the cutting of diseased acacia trees along the national highway in the cities of Naga and Carcar and the town of San Fernando conjured, it is that other sectors are now conscious of the danger that diseased trees pose.

Department of Education (DepEd) 7 Regional Director Carmelita Dulangon recently issued a directive for school officials to remove “hazardous” trees from their campuses. Dulangon cited an experience when she was the division superintendent of Talisay City when two students were hospitalized after an old tree toppled and hit them.

For the clearing operation, the DepEd needs the help of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 for the issuance of special tree cutting permits. But first, DENR 7 personnel must conduct a tree inventory in the various schools in the region.


The recent toppling of two acacia trees in the national highway in southern Cebu was what also prompted local government officials and DENR 7 to work for the removal of diseased acacia trees in that area. But the effort was stalled when environmentalists protested and DENR Secretary Ramon Paje took back the special cutting permit DENR 7 earlier issued.

How that controversy affected DENR 7’s resolve to clear the region of hazardous trees remains to be seen. Will DepEd 7 and DENR 7 officials be deterred again once environmentalists wrap ribbons around the trees that they will label as diseased after the tree inventory?

Interestingly, it is not only schools that may be vulnerable to trees toppling especially with the rain pouring continuously the past days. Early this month, an old Dakit tree toppled and damaged three houses in Barangay Kamagayan, Cebu City. Fortunately, nobody was injured.

That incident should prod barangay officials not only in Cebu City but in other areas as well to inspect the trees in the localities and work with DENR 7 to get special cutting permits. Old and diseased trees that pose hazard to the residents must be immediately removed.

Trees need to be protected as much as possible, but if they are old and diseased and have become a threat to life and property, they should go. Pragmatism, not romanticism, should be the rule.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 23, 2014.


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