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EDITORIAL: Balancing Conservation and Development

Automatically laying blame on the environmentalists for the toppling of a few trees due to the catastrophic blow of Typhoon Tisoy is rather a hasty generalization. Even an oversimplification perhaps.

Granting that the uprooting of some trees found alongside the widened road within Barangay San Felipe, Naga City, primarily caused the falling of some electric posts, the incident might have been an isolated incident. It should not be overlooked that as per report of CASURECO 2 , nearly 200 power poles have been downed by Tisoy within the coverage area of the electric cooperative.

Unless proof is shown that the other poles downed were near to the uprooted trees, the accusation is recklessly baseless.

There is however an urgent need for the environmentalists to temper their assessment of situational realities, as pitted against the heartless and mindless implementation of infrastructure projects.

Trees alone do not offer comfort and convenience. Neither a habitat. But hastily pursued developmental projects without due regard to environmental concerns could trigger retrogression and even lead to damnation.

How did it come to happen that several decades ago, trees have been planted along the road sides? Why plant trees by the roadside when there are other areas ready for reforestation? Probably it was for aesthetic or tourism purposes. More pointedly, it could have been in keeping with the propaganda “visual progress.”

On the other hand, hastily having infrastructure projects without due regard to the immediate surroundings uncovers a sad reality. No social and environmental soundness studies have been conducted prior to the physical implementation of the projects. In plain, what mattered only was the completion of the road and power works.

This brings to memory a bill filed by a legislator seeking to outlaw typhoons. Of course, the idea was lofty, but it was obviously not cognizant with the realities of our existence. Banning the occurrence of natural calamities cannot be subject to legislation, in the same manner that concerns about ecological balance cannot be subject to a long lasting court order.

Perhaps they can offer short lived mitigation only. That’s the sad fact of man’s life. No matter how wise and learned we may be, we cannot conquer nature.

Enough of the blaming game then because man can never attain perfection. A workable compromise needs to be ironed out among the contending parties and advocates. Although considerably late already, perhaps a more doable alternative may be considered.

Billions and billions of pesos had been spent for restoration of electricity due to damages caused by typhoons. Pockets may have gone much deeper and envelopes must have grown fatter.

Soft term loans have been secured. Compared to the huge amount incurred due to poles replacement, expenses for installation of cables under the ground would pale.

Install electric cables under the ground and encourage more tree planting activities within the non vulnerable areas. Time consuming and very expensive? Yes,but “kun bako ngonian, nuarin pa? a Naga’s popular slogan once said.

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