DAVAO CITY–The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is seeking the passage of a law that would protect centuries-old trees in the country.
In a statement Friday, Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the proposed “Heritage Tree Act” seeks to impose stiff penalties and jail terms for any person who endangers or damages the centuries-old trees.
Through a resolution issued in September last year, MinDA endorsed the measure to “secure the long and healthy existence of all heritage trees in the country”.
The agency aims to encourage “integrative development” to institutionalize the sustainable development and management of Mindanao’s natural resources through public-private participation.
MinDA also believes that heritage trees not only have environmental purposes but also provide socio-economic benefits.
“The MinDA resolution, presented by Board Member Sherwin Mylil Begyan in the last MinDA Board meeting, was an offshoot of the controversy involving an attempt by infrastructure developers in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, to fell a 300-year-old towering Toog Tree to give way to a road widening,” Piñol said.
Piñol said the attempt to cut down the tree angered residents who viewed it as a heritage that “must be preserved and protected for the next generations”.
The San Francisco residents, headed by a retired public works engineer Mauro Bravo, formed the advocacy group STOP (Save The Toog Tree Please) succeeded in stopping two recent attempts to cut down the tree.
The MinDA chief quoted Begyan as saying that “heritage Trees are our links to the past when Mindanao teemed with centuries-old hardwoods. The next generation of Mindanaoans must be given a chance to see these giant trees.” (PNA)
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