Tree girdling is criminal act, says priest
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines—Running priest, Robert Reyes, wants local officials to make illegal the girdling of trees, in reaction to reports that trees, which an environment group has sought to protect from a road widening project on the Manila North Road (MNR), have died.
“Girdling is a blatant criminal act. It’s like slashing [a human being’s] wrist. You won’t die right away, but [you die] slowly,” Reyes said.
Girdling refers to the process of peeling off the bark of a tree trunk to prevent it from sharing nutrients.
Last year, Reyes led a crusade to save 770 trees which sustained girdling injuries along the MNR expansion area in eastern Pangasinan towns.
“I would like to insist that a credible investigation be done to find out who girdled the trees that led to their death,” the priest said in a telephone interview.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) district office in Rosales town asked for permission to cut 127 dead trees along the MNR in Urdaneta City and the towns of Binalonan and Pozorrubio.
The dead trees are part of the 770 that were spared when the DPWH’s permit to cut 1,829 trees expired in February 2014.
The DPWH had applied for another tree-cutting permit, but environmental groups opposed it by asking a court in Urdaneta City to issue an environmental protection order.
Last week, Gov. Amado Espino Jr. agreed to have the dead trees removed as long as the DENR had certified them as dead and could no longer be rehabilitated.
“We cannot just accept DENR’s certification that these are dead trees. We signed an agreement on Aug. 26 [last year] that it should be a joint study in determining which should be cut and which should stay,” said Patria Gwen Borcena, development and environmental sociologist of Green Research, an environmental research group.
In her visits to the province, Borcena said she brought tree experts who were certain that many of the girdled trees could still be saved and rehabilitated.
“I think it’s very clear that they wanted all 770 trees to be cut. This means that they do not respect the position of the provincial government to save the trees, and [Public Works] Secretary [Rogelio] Singson’s order to stop cutting trees along the MNR,” Borcena said. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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