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1,858 trees must go for MRT 7

/ 02:03 AM January 20, 2017
CUT, BALLED OR PRUNEDThat’s the fate awaiting these trees on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, where they stand in the path of the upcoming MRT 7 project. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

CUT, BALLED OR PRUNED That’s the fate awaiting these trees on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, where they stand in the path of the upcoming MRT 7 project. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

A total of 1,858 trees, including narra, molave and ipil species which are on the endangered list, will “have to go” to make way for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 7 project, a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) official said on Thursday.

“MRT 7 is a priority project.  In the first place, the trees were planted there without anticipating there will be engineering developments… We love the trees. We share the sentiment of the environmental groups but they have to go,” said Sofio Quintana, DENR-National Capital Region assistant director.

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The 1,858 trees are found along the 23.17-kilometer-long development stretch for MRT 7 between SM North Edsa and Quirino Highway in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

Of the 1,858 trees, 1,215 trees around 10- to 15-meters tall will be cut down; 623 will be earth  balled while 20 trees will just be pruned, Quintana told the Inquirer.

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Earth balling is the process of extracting the tree by digging out its roots. The tree is then replanted.

Quintana said of the 1,858 trees that will be displaced, 525 trees are categorized as “premium” species.

These include narra, molave and ipil which are classified as endangered tree species by the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau.

“The cutting, balling and pruning cannot be avoided. Unfortunately, they have to go. But these trees can now be propagated easily,” he added. “If you don’t cut them, they will be an eyesore or a cause of danger.”

According to Quintana, they  have already made a recommendation regarding the application submitted by EEI Corp. project manager Permo Saroza. It will also be submitted for approval to Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.

Quintana told the Inquirer that EEI Corp. would be required to replace every transplanted tree that dies with 100 seedlings.

Every tree that has to be cut will be replaced with 50 seedlings, for a total of 60,750 seedlings, he said.

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The contractor is also required to submit to DENR their proposed landscape and rehabilitation plan for the affected area. “We will see to it that the landscape [plan] is followed, and that only small to medium tall trees will be planted [for security purposes].”

Quintana said the affected trees were part of the “adopt and plant a tree” programs that called for the regreening of major thoroughfares.

The P69.30-billion MRT 7 project includes the development of a 23-km railway system with 14 stations from North Avenue, Quezon City to San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

Once completed and operational by April 2020, the elevated train system is expected to initially accommodate 350,000 daily passengers and shorten travel time from the current 3.5 hours on the road to one hour.

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TAGS: Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Metro Rail Transit, Philippine news updates, tree cutting
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