I was shocked to see a local newspaper with the headline “BSU to cut 50,000 trees for its housing project”. I immediately bought the paper and read the details. Mayor Abalos said they were surprised when some of those who were awarded land in that forested area came and were trying to apply for building permits. Accordingly, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Proclamation number 637 reserving 132,509 square meters of the forested area for housing purposes that will benefit BSU faculty and staff. Rumors are circulating that only 400 plus individuals were lucky enough to be awarded.
On the other hand, the same forested area is home to some 15,ooo trees that help protect the slope and pull up water from the ground. It is a primary water shed. We went to check the area to see the potential damage to the forest if houses were to be built and answer was made clear upon first glance.
Cordillera Ecological Center Estimates that If BSU Employees Assn Housing Plan Pushes through, Some 13,000 to 15,000 Trees Will be Cut or Destroyed
By Michael A. Bengwayan
On March 13, I assembled an ocular and inspecting team to visit the BSU Employees Assn Housing area. With me was Dean Cuanso of DECAT, Palmer Demot of Butatew, Victor Ciriaco of Beekeepers Assn.,, Hon. Arthur Shontogan, chair of La Trinidad municipal environment council and an ABS CBN team led by Ada Sibayan; and my staff Dobbels Wallang and Robin Dizon, both environment science graduates.
Using transect and quadrat systems as tree inventory strategies and considering that each of the 400 plus BSU employees assn members will build a house at a given area of 150 sq. meters with floor plan of 6 x 6 meters, I and my staff laid out 20 x 20 meters quadrats in four different areas on the site.
We computed that at the least, some 13,000 trees will be adversely affected if the housing plan will be implemented and if frontyard and backyards will be expanded, at the most 15,000 trees will be affected. The average number of trees to be affected for every squasre meter of land is from 4 to 6 trees.
My recomendation is that the housing plan should not be implemented as it will cause destruction of the ecosystem, the watershed, the water supply, the immediate prevailing pine tree stand carbon sink and to the environment and peoples as a whole.
TO GET A BETTER PICTURE OF THE FOREST, WATCH THE VIDEOS BELOW:
Consultations and protests against the cutting of the trees is now on the way. Let us protect our environment for our sake and for the next generation.