By Zaldy Comanda
BAGUIO CITY – The city council has approved an ordinance on first reading declaring all pine trees in the city as heritage and protected trees.
Councilor Leandro Yangot, Jr., who authored the ordinance, said the measure penalizes offenders with a fine of P5,000 and imprisonment of six months.
Under the ordinance, the cutting down of pine trees is prohibited, except in specific cases, such as when a tree endangers life and property.
The ordinance tasked the City Mayor’s Office in coordination with the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) to formulate the guidelines for the implementation of the measure.
Yangot said Baguio used to be called the City of Pines and Pine Tree Capital of the Philippines because of the proliferation of the trees.
But with the spread of urban decay, pine trees were cut resulting to a point that they have become an endangered species.
Pine trees provide oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide. A pine tree also absorbs as much as 150 liters of water and releases it as ground water.
Pine also trees prevent landslides and erosions.
Yangot said the city is facing the grim reality of losing its pines in the name of development.