Baguio City, Philippines
In case you have not heard, SM Baguio is proposing the development of a multilevel parking area along the western side of the mall (see figure below).
Unfortunately, the site serves as a ‘city’ for about a hundred or so trees.
So why remove such trees for the sake of “development”? (Oh why, oh why!)
News reports are saying that SM Supermalls will observe appropriate protocols for transferring ALL the trees. (Check these news reports: Manila Times and Sun Star Baguio). However, Dr. Micheal A. Bengwayan, an Echoing Green fellow (yep!), and executive director of PINE TREE (Cordillera Ecological Center), posts in his Facebook page as follows (Dr. Micheal A. Bengwayan’s Facebook page):
“What happens when a tree is uprooted?
1. Transplant Shock — They are subjected to stress-related problems due to tremendous root loss when dug. This condition, commonly called transplant shock, results in increased vulnerability to drought, insects, diseases and other problems. To a greater or lesser degree, transplant shock lasts until the natural balance between the root system and the top or crown of the transplanted tree is restored. Old trees do not survive, most die during this root-establishment period. A tree’s chance of survival can be drastically improved through practices that favor establishment of the root system. This involves regular care during the first three years following transplanting.
2. Nutrient and Water Deprivation — When a tree is dug for transplanting, more than ninety-five percent of the absorbing roots are severed. With less than five percent of its root system remaining, the newly transplanted tree suffers from water stress. The crown is capable of losing water faster than it can be absorbed by the limited root mass. Water stress, in turn, can reduce the ability of leaves to produce carbohydrates (energy), diminish the growth of all parts of the tree, and subject the tree to many other environmental and pest-related problems. Combined, these problems all contribute to “transplant shock” that can kill the tree.”
His other posts on Facebook also mentioned previous earthballing activities in Baguio, where some 497 pine trees were earthballed by Camp John Hay Development Corporation in the late 1990s. He observes that only less than 20 percent survived and are even showing signs of deterioration.
Furthermore, “when you earthball, the machine used (normally a backhoe) cuts off the feeder, lateral and water roots, and the taproot is forced out. This stresses the tree, depriving it of water and nutrient and choking it off to die, slowly.” (Dr. Bengwayan through his Facebook status updates.)
Lastly, we all have a general idea why trees are VERY IMPORTANT for our environment (though maybe a follow-up post could elucidate these whys). As such, sitting idly, watching the trees fall down would mean not only ignorance for a very important matter, but also a sort of “crime” against nature and tomorrow.
Wow, a crime against nature and tomorrow. Imagine committing a crime to the soil, the waters, the trees, the bees, the sands, the land and the someone. The someone who is not yet a “someone”… Maybe, that someone is still an egg and sperm cell, out there, waiting to be fertilized somewhere.
The PINE TREE is organizing a gathering against removing more than a hundred trees in SM City Baguio on January 20, 2012 (Friday) at People’s Park, from 2:00 to 6:00 o’clock pm. Dr. Bengwayan also created an online petition against the cutting at GoPetition (http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-the-cutting-uprooting-of-trees-at-sm-baguio.html)
It’s just sayang that we will be on field during that day for a DOH-funded research regarding leprosy in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
So aside from a leprosy-free Philippines in 2020, I’m also hoping for a green and forested Philippines in 2020! More power to PINE TREE (Cordillera Ecological Center), Dr. Micheal A. Bengwayan and to everyone wishing for a city of pines to exist.