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Landscape artist adopts trees imperiled by road projects

/ 07:00 AM September 08, 2014

THESE trees doomed to be cut due to road-widening projects were adopted by landscaper Jose del Rosario. TONETTE T. OREJAS/INQUIRER Central Luzon

ANGELES CITY—If children and animals can be adopted, why not trees?

Landscape artist Jose Camilo del Rosario took this tact to save 57 trees, mostly acacia, that were scheduled to be cut, and inevitably killed, to widen two national roads here.

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Four months since the trees were adopted in April this year, each one has grown new branches, twigs and leaves—signs these are on the way to recovery after being earth-balled from their original location and transferred to Del Rosario’s lots inside  Town and Country Homes and along Sapang Balen Creek, both in this city.

“People were quarreling over  what to do with the trees. But these trees could be relocated,” Del Rosario, 45, said on Tuesday.

The rescued trees owe their lives to many “adoptive parents.”

Cecil Yumul of Save the Trees Coalition (STC) convinced Del Rosario to provide refuge to the condemned trees.

JQG Co., the contractor, shouldered the cost of relocation and Jojo de Leon earth-balled the trees.

“When the trees arrived in my place, it rained for a few days and that gave them a refreshing start,” said De Leon, who apprenticed for landscaper Shirley Sanders. He replanted the earth-balled trees next to mature trees that provided them shade from harsh sunlight.

The trees, De Leon said, needed to be saved because it usually takes  20 years for these to grow to maturity.

He said the trees that lined  the circumferential road leading to Clark Freeport were planted by former Pampanga Gov. Juanita Nepomuceno and her husband Francisco, also a former governor.

Del Rosario told the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that he was ready to adopt the rest of the 275 trees that were scheduled to be cut to give way to the widening of the  circumferential road and Pandan Road.

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“They can get the trees back,” he said, should the DPWH decide to replant them near the highways.

Adopting trees has been a fairly new solution to the waves of tree cutting by the DPWH for road expansion projects since 2011.

The city government in the Pampanga capital of San Fernando had earth-balled some 30 trees in 2012 and replanted these to a land of the late Tomas Dizon there.

Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda adopted several trees in her farm in Lubao town.

Del Rosario, who is known for his low-maintenance gardens, said local officials should care for trees on roadsides by setting aside budgets for their trimming.

STC has also found recourse not only in tree-loving people but also in the courts. In a court-approved mediation with the DPWH, STC saved 486 trees in Angeles and Mabalacat cities from being cut. Later, STC agreed to earth-ball and transfer 106 weak trees.

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