Baguio welcomes DENR-CAR move to adjust tree cutting permit procedures

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The City Government welcomed the move of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources Cordillera (DENR-CAR) to adjust its procedures on the issuance of tree cutting permits as it would enable the local government to effectively implement local laws on tree cutting regulations.

Mayor Benjie Magalong said he had been informed by DENR-CAR Regional Executive Director Ralph Pablo of their decision to stop accepting tree cutting applications that have not been issued the required clearances or have not complied with all the requirements of the city government including those stipulated in City Ordinance No. 18-16 or the Environment Code.

“…There have been instances when applicants will file his/her (sic) application to the CENR Office (Community Environment and Natural Resources Office) prior to securing the required Mayor’s Clearance and it is the CENR Office that indorses the application to your office for the issuance of said clearance,” Pablo wrote the mayor adding:

“To standardize and for uniformity, applicants will now be advised to comply first with all requirements and that they will directly secure the clearance subject to the inspect of CEPMO (City Environment and Parks Management Office) representative which shall serve as your basis for the issuance of said clearance;

“All requirements from your office should also be settled by the applicant specifically his or her obligation consistent with the Environment Code of the City,” Pablo said.

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The mayor said this is a good development considering the city’s resolve to be stricter in imposing its policies covering such permits and to ensure that its urban forest management plan is followed.

CEPMO Acting Head Rhenan Diwas said that apart from enabling the city to invoke compliance with the Environmental Code provisions, the procedural change will also harmonize national regulations and local legislations governing tree cutting.

It will also give the city the leeway to assess the impact of the proposed developments and negotiate for adjustments to minimize the number of trees to be cut.

Diwas cited the request for tree cutting permit by one government agency for a drainage project to be built on an area considered as a bioswale.  The application was endorsed by the DENR-CAR CENRO to the city for the issuance of a mayor’s endorsement in keeping with the revised procedures.

He said CEPMO was able to convince the project proponent to revise the project specifications thereby significantly reducing the number of affected trees.

Diwas said they have also begun the strict imposition of the green infrastructure requirement under the Environmental Code to applicants for tree cutting permit and building permit specifically Article 8 Section 48 and Article 32 Section 228 of the Code.

The first article requires the integration in plans for all new buildings green infrastructures such as rain harvesting and recycling facilities, energy conservation retrofitting, waste water treatment and solid waste facilities and roof areas for plants and trees.

The second article meanwhile requires tree cutting permit applicants to plant 30 pine seedlings for each pine tree cut within the boundaries of the construction site.

By: Aileen P. Refuerzo

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