Tree-planting and the congressmen

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    IT seems like a long time ago when someone important in the House of Representatives vowed that soon, the nation will see 100 million new trees in its dwindling forests. That was former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. whose pronouncements are almost always in the superlative. Sadly, even the massive tree-planting program of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) came short of these estimates.

    Now, the House of Representatives is again the venue for pushing the same idea. The lawmakers this time around wanted to show concern on climate change and global warming issues, and the shortest cut to this objective is nothing but planting trees.

    Scientific data tell us that trees are most important to stave off global warming, mainly because they absorb and store carbon dioxide because this greenhouse gas reaches the upper atmosphere and destroys it. We have plenty of carbon dioxide in all urban areas of the world, mainly from vehicle emissions, power plants and factories.

    In the lower chamber, House Bill 7763 mandating the planting of trees as a requisite for the issuance of building permits has been passed on third and final reading, 238-0. It is the third bill on the subject. This goes to show that at least on the issue of the planet’s survival, our representatives are on the same page.

    ‘If it becomes a law, the problem really is in the implementation.’

    Earlier, House Bill 6930 was approved on final reading. It mandates parents to plant two trees for every child born to them. Another measure, HB 6931, also approved on final reading, makes planting of two tree saplings as additional requirement for students graduating in the elementary, high school and college levels. Meanwhile, the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board is eyeing to impose a tree-planting requirement for franchise applicants for public utility vehicles.

    The consolidated bill was authored by Reps. Joseph Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod party-list), Precious Hipolito-Castelo (PDP-Laban, Quezon City), and Michael Edgardo Aglipay (DIWA party-list). The measure directs all applicants for building permits to submit a tree-planting plan, in addition to other requirements imposed by the local government unit. The plan requires designating an area for planting trees within the property. (In Manila, with limited land area, this looks like next to impossible.)

    Real estate developers are required to plant a tree for every 500 square meters of commercial and industrial space. For residential buildings, one tree for every 250 square meters is required.

    There is no doubt that these new requirements on tree-planting have the best of intentions, as evidenced by the 100 percent support it received from the congressmen and congresswomen. If it becomes a law, the problem really is in the implementation.