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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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Living with trees

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The City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office of Bacolod City is looking into the creation of a composite team to survey the city for trees, especially those along the roadsides, that could cause danger to the public in a bid to prevent future accidents after a centuries-old Mahogany tree that was felled by strong winds hit the front section of a sports utility vehicle in Barangay Granada on Saturday, killing 7-year-old Ken Marion Peñaflorida, and injuring his mother who were both seated in the front seat.

The composite team will be composed of the CDRRMO, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Central Negros Electric Cooperative. CDRRMO head Jose Maria Vargas said they will come up with data first before creating the team.

A survey that will determine the areas where certain trees may pose a danger to the public is sorely needed, not only in Bacolod City, but in most of the cities and municipalities of Negros Island as well. While such surveys should include all trees on public land that are large enough to be a danger to the public if its general condition has deteriorated, such efforts could start by focusing on the trees along roads, especially those whose roots and health could have been compromised or affected by recent road widening activities.

Trees not only improve the aesthetics of our roadsides, they also help prevent flooding, provide shade and improve air quality. However, as with all things that are ignored and taken for granted, unhealthy and unstable trees can also pose a risk. The tragic incident that took the life of a 7-year-old who was on his way to a resort with his family, underscores that risk and the need for our towns and cities to have teams dedicated to evaluating the health and the overall risk posed by trees so measures can be taken to minimize any risks.

Because beautiful tree-lined roads are always more pleasant to behold, we often try our best to save those trees. However, planting or saving trees is easy, compared to the never-ending task of taking care of them and ensuring that they do not pose any danger to human activity. This is a job government needs to do well and consistently and while the composite team in Bacolod City is a start, it should've been done long ago and by all the other cities on this island that is proud of its trees.*


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