“Where do we get P130 million?”
With that question in mind, proponents of the Naga-Carcar City road-widening project are considering to cut down 130 fruit-bearing and other trees that line up the 3.1 km highway from barangays Tinaan in Naga City to Langtad in Carcar City
In last week’s dialog, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) asked the regional Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to spare 16 out of the 25 acacia trees in the area.
While Regional DPWH-7 Director Ador Canlas said his office would study the proposal, he also suggested replanting 100 seedlings for every tree cut to make way for the Naga-Carcar road-widening project.
With earth-balling of a single tree costing a minimum P100,000 to as high as P1 million for bigger trees, Canlas and project proponent Rep. Eduardo Gullas of Cebu’s 1st district agreed that some sacrifices have to be made.
The DENR identified 155 trees to be affected in the first phase of the Naga-Carcar road project.
Of these, 25 are acacia trees while the other 130 trees consist of fruit trees, African tulips, Narra, Neem, Mahogany and Gmelina among others.
This week, the DPWH promised to present a new drainage design to save 16 healthy heritage acacia trees by working around them.
During last week’s dialog, Gullas doubted if there is a budget set aside to earth-ball the trees. “Where do we get P130 million?,” Gullas said.
DENR-7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo acknowledged that in this case, a compromise has to be made.
“If earth-balling a tree would mean no assurance as to the degree of survival, we might as well have that proposal of Director Canlas to have it replaced with trees,” Montejo said.
He said he will recommend to their central office to require the DPWH to restore any affected vegetation during the development of the road widening.
Montejo said he sees no problem because most of the 130 are fruit-bearing trees.
“They should have a budget for this because that will be the condition that we will be having. If they have budget for compensation of those affected by the road widening then they should have budget for this,” he said.
Gullas said something has to yield insofar as the implementation of the road-widening project is concerned.
“This (four-lane) arterial road will not only benefit the people of Carcar but will go as far as southeast, and southwest of Cebu including people in Bohol and Negros. This road has regional influence,” Gullas said.
The project to widen the N. Bacalso Avenue was envisioned by Gullas as early as 1992 but the last road widening ended only up to Naga.
The congressman wanted to expand the project towards Carcar to connect it to the city’s bypass road going south.
Montejo said young trees are more effective in carbon sequestration than older trees.
“When you talk about balling a tree whose trunk has more than 1-meter in diameter, you cannot get all the root system and pulling and planting it without them will make the tree vulnerable to falling and living,” Montejo said.
To avoid similar problems, Montejo said their office and the DPWH should coordinate with each other.
“The next phase especially in the Perellos area, we should look into that ahead before the funding of that construction of the road,” he said.
The first phase stretches 3.1 kilometer from barangay Tinaan to Langtad.
For their part the Movement for a Liveable Cebu (MLC) said earth-balling a tree isn’t feasible nor advisable.
In a statement, MLC said the heritage trees should be included as part of a center island of a road.
“There should be a separation of different types of vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The biggest cause of traffic along this vital corridor is in reality the mix of various types of traffic including fast and slow moving vehicles,” the group said.
It said there should be a traffic scheme in which high-speed vehicles occupy the inner lanes while slow-speed vehicles take the lanes outside the center island.
This would require extra space for the lanes by the side, they said.
But the MLC said sustainability rather than profit should be the priority in the road-widening project.
“It is for this simple reason that these heritage trees have to be preserved,” it said.
The city governments of Naga and Carcar earlier offered to salvage the heritage trees.
Naga City officials plan to transfer any earth-balled tree to a proposed heritage park right behind City Hall along a reclaimed portion.
Montejo said an inventory and assessment of the affected trees from San Fernando and Carcar City will be done as soon as concerns over the first phase of the road-widening project are answered. /Marian Z. Codilla, Senior Reporter with Correspondent Jessa Chrisna Marie J. Agua