Mining town crafts law to protect century-old heritage trees

By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

ITOGON, Benguet — In their efforts to preserve what is left of their town’s natural resources, the Sangguniang Bayan of this mining town is perfecting an ordinance for the preservation of century old and heritage trees.

Councilor Arnel Bahingawan said in a press conference on September 9, the ordinance seeks to protect the town’s century old and heritage trees as part of promoting environmental protection and conservation. He said the ordinance authored by Councilor Norberto Pacio is now on its second reading.

“Hopefully the ordinance would be finalized and passed in October. We just finished the public consultation last August 28,” he said.

Bahingawan said the ordinance will create a technical working group (TWG) that will identify the trees that would be declared as heritage and century old trees. He said representatives from the offices of municipal agriculturist, environmentalist, tourism; with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and Benguet State University will form the TWG.

Pacio, in his draft resolution defined century old trees as those that has existed for 100 years or more while heritage trees are those considered as ecologically, historically and culturally valuable to the town. He said rare species and those trees near watersheds could also be declared as heritage trees.

He added that even trees within private properties could be declared as heritage or century old trees.

Once declared as heritage or century old trees, a marker shall be placed near the tree.

“All trees declared as century old trees and heritage trees shall not be subjected to any cutting or any form of destruction, except for medical, public emergency, public safety and botanical reasons and shall be preserved and maintained in its natural state,” the proposed ordinance reads. Violators shall be fined and penalized.

The proposed ordinance also provides that the local government will maintain a list of all declared trees as basis for an annual review, inspection and updating.

The said proposed ordinance also seeks to institutionalize a Tree Celebration to include a search for Century Old and Heritage Tree and tree planting activity every Arbor Day.

Originating from Nebraska City in 1872, Arbor Day is a holiday where people are encouraged to plant and care for trees. In the Philippines Arbor Day is celebrated every June 25 as provided for in Proclamation No. 643 that was amended by Proclamation 396 in 2003. # nordis.net

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