DENR says earthballing century trees too costlyBy Marian Z. Codilla
Cebu Daily News
It costs P100,000 to P1.5 million to earthball a single tree – remove it by the roots and replanting it somewhere else, an official said.
With this, earthballing was ruled out as too expensive to save century-old trees in the ongoing Naga-Carcar road widening project.
The high cost and low mortality rate of earthballing was pointed out yesterday by Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7) during a dialog with Rep. Eduardo Gullas and officials of the Dept. of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Montejo instead asked the DPWH to try to spare 16 “healthy” century-old acacias by redesigning the drainage system beside the road to skirt around the trees.
DPWH Regional Director Ador Canlas said he would explore a new design but can’t assure all 16 trees can be saved.
“We’ll study it. We will do our best that only the drainage will be sacrificed, not the paving,” Canlas said.
The 16 healthy acacias are among 25 century-old trees identified in the first section of the road project from barangay Tinaan to Langtad in Naga.
Nine were earlier identified as too old, hazardous and defective — and due for cutting down for posing danger to motorists.
Montejo said the cost of earthblalling was at least P100,000 for trees with trunks measuring less than a meter in diameter to P1.5 million for bigger trees. Aside from this, the chances of trees surviving the transfer was low he said.
A joint inventor 155 trees of different species affected by the road project in the first phase.
In a meeting the day before, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City traffic official Sylvan Jakosalem urged officials to spare the heritage trees even as they supported the plan to cut down nine “hazardous” trees for posing danger to motorists.
Jakosalem’s family opposed cutting the heritage trees since their great grandfather, governor Dionisio Jakosalem ordered the planting of the trees in 1915.
DPWH 2nd district engineer Daisy Toledo yesterday said some trees fall within the new drainage line and some stand in the center of newly paved roads.
“We should save whatever heritage tree (we have) but if you look at a win-win solution of this problem I think there are instances that there will be trees that will really be compromised,” Montejo said.
“It’s not an issue of the value of the trees’ carbon sequestration because younger trees can sequester carbon three times more than old trees. The issue here is to save our heritage.”
Gullas and other officials also asked for a more detailed plan of the next phase of the road-widening project.
Contractor AR Adlawan Construction wants to beat a Dec. 6 deadline for the first phase of the project.
Cebu Daily News noticed trees and utility posts standing in the path of roadwidening work.
The concrete pavement would skip around these towers, leaving gaps in the road stretch, a temporary setup till a decision is made about pulling out the obstructions.
The acacia tree across Tinaan barangay hall, photographed by Cebu Daily News last week in the middle of a newly paved road wasn’t considered “defective” or “hazardous” by DENR . The contractor was forced to work around it.
The contractor was earlier ordered by DENR not to excavate close to the acacia trees or a 10-meter diameter until a decision is made whether the trees can be cut.
“At the very start of this project the request of Ma’am Daisy (Toledo) before was just to trim down the affected trees,” Montejo told Gullas.
The row of acacia trees along the highway in barangay Perellos, Carcar City is the most photographed green canopy in southern Cebu.
The late governor Jakosalem ordered the planting of the trees to provide shade to travelers heading south.