July 17, 2024

The town of Bakun, Benguet has declared the preservation of century-old trees and heritage trees in the landlocked municipality.

In the ordinanceauthored by Councilor Mark Bayawa, it stated that century-old trees can be a source of inspiration to care for the environment, aside from its help against soil erosion and serving as a carbon sink.

“In identifying and preserving these century old and heritage trees, we can also use them for educational and tourism purposes,” the ordinance stated.

Heritage treesare those important tree species which have not yet reached 100 years old but are considered ecologically, historically or culturally valuable or belonging to rare species, or are adjacent to a water source like spring or well, and when cut or destroyed, will disrupt the water source shall receive the same protection like the century-old trees.

To implement the ordinance, a special technical committee shall be created by the municipal mayor’s office composed of representatives from the Municipal Agriculture Office, Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, Office of the Municipal Tourism, Liga ng mga Barangay president, Department of Education Bakun, Benguet State University College of Forestryand corporations engaged to renewable energy.

With the Menro on the helm, the special technical committee shall evaluate, determine and recommend the declaration of century old trees and heritage trees.

The committee shall set guidelines and criteria for the selection and identification of big, century-old trees, and heritage trees.

This will also be the basis for the identification of one biggest, century-old tree, and heritage tree in Bakun from the list identified by the seven barangays of the town.

Barangay officials, school authorities, non-government organizations or peoples’ organizations shall submit to the Menro a list of prospective trees. The Menro shall forward the list to the special technical committee for confirmation, validation and recommendation to the municipal council.

It shall be the municipal council that shall declare and approve the identified century-old and heritage trees through a resolution.

The site of the declared trees shall then bear an inscription: “The municipal government of Bakun declares this tree as a ‘century-old tree or aheritage tree’ and all citizens are enjoined to protect and preserve this tree as part of our natural treasure and patrimony.”

For the trees found within a private lot, it shall be covered by a written agreement between the lot owner and the local governments. The agreement states that the lot owner has voluntarily approved the tree to be declared as such, and shall allow the tree to be protected under the ordinance.

“All trees declared as century old and heritage trees shall not be subjected to any cutting or any form of destruction, except for medical, public emergency, public safety and botanical reasons and shall be preserved and maintained in their natural state,” it stated.

The prohibition shall also apply to plants and animals that live within or are dependent on the tree for survival.

Violators will be fined P2,500 or five days community service per violation. The municipality may choose to impose an administrative fine of P500 on first offense, P1,000 on second, and P2,000 on third offense. – Ofelia C. Empian