DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Local and foreign environmental advocacy groups have launched a project to save the remaining heritage trees in Davao City.
The Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) Inc., in partnership with International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and Ecowaste Coalition, recently launched its project “Save Heritage Trees: Mapping the Urban Heritage Trees in Davao City through Citizen Science”.
“The Save Heritage Trees project initiative was proposed in response to the continuing urban deforestation in which large and old trees were already cut to give way to infrastructure development,” IDIS executive director Chinkie Pelino-Golle said, in a statement.
Among the goals of the project are to generate maps of the remaining heritage trees and assess its conditions through citizen science survey, geotagging of locally found heritage trees in the area.
After being provided with capacity building and orientation, volunteer “citizen-scientists” will identify the species of the tree, measure its trunk, estimate its height and age, collect its GPS coordinates through geotagging, as well as document the observed issues on the ground, IDIS explained.
All data will be submitted online using the KoboCollectData as a survey tool.
The project will be implemented in the central business district of Davao City such as Poblacion, Talomo, Agdao, and Buhangin.
IDIS noted the lack of local ordinance specifically for the protection of remaining old city trees.
“These trees are continuously threatened by this Build Build Build program of the current administration and the kind of development direction we have,” the group added.
Pelino-Golle stressed the need to lobby for a policy ensuring the protection and conservation of these trees.
According to her, the heritage tree mapping project will be turned over to the Davao City Council as a policy recommendation for a Heritage Tree Protection Ordinance.
Environmental advocates have been campaigning for the protection of existing trees in Davao City.
In 2015, there has been opposition to the cutting of trees along Dacudao Avenue. The local government has also been criticized for the cutting of trees in its renovation of Clifford Park in 2019.
A campaign to preserve Molave and Sampaloc trees in Chavez Street was also launched this year.
Forester and professor Rhea Lou Germo told Davao Today that while development in the city is inevitable, protection and preservation of green spaces like the few remaining trees should also be indicated in the urban planning and management.
“If there’s a development in a city, it is important to set aside a preservation area for wildlife species–both flora and fauna, especially for high valued and ecologically important species,” she said.
Germo finally underscored the need for a stronger collective voice in advocating for the protection and sustainability of green spaces in the city, which are significant in addressing air pollution in urban areas.
Meanwhile, the Save Heritage Trees project said it is accepting volunteers ages 18 and above. These include students, out of school youth, and professionals.