QC Environment, Beautification Plans Intensified

MANILA, Philippines - The Quezon City government Thursday intensified its environment-friendly projects and beautification programs to make the city more attractive to local and foreign tourists.

As part of sprucing up the city, Mayor Herbert Bautista said he wants the leisure spots and sidewalks painted green and transformed into linear gardens for endemic trees.

He said he prefers endemic trees like acacia to be planted and lined up on the center islands or sidewalks of Tomas Morato and other wide streets, especially in business and leisure areas to entice tourists.

The city's Parks and Development Administration Department (PDAD) is conducting studies to determine the areas where the endemic trees are to be planted.

As part of his global conservation advocacy, Bautista disclosed that he is negotiating with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to increase the ratio in the replacement of each old tree to be cut in Quezon City from 1:10 ratio to 1:25.

"If for example there is a need to cut one old acacia tree due to necessity, it should be replaced by 25 medium-grown acacia trees. In this manner, we still can preserve our environment. Nawala ang isa pero marami naman ang papalit (One tree was uprooted but replaced by a greater number of trees)," Bautista added.

Bautista clarified that he will allow the cutting of trees in some areas especially those which affect the smooth flow of traffic, "once we get assurance that there will be more trees to be planted as replacements."

The Quezon City has grown some 19,379 seedlings of indigenous, flowering and shade trees in open spaces, center islands, barangays, parks and playgrounds and along waterway embankments to help boost the metro-wide urban greening program.

The city's tree-planting initiative also serves as blueprint in promoting its status as Metro Manila's "green lungs" and model garden city.

Quezon City is one of the first local government units to take part in implementing the National Greening Program launched by the Department of the Interior and Local Government in July last year.

Tree-planting sites include parks, open spaces and center islands such as Katipunan Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue extension, Araneta Avenue, Mindanao Avenue, Visayas Avenue and Roces Avenue, where more than 40,938 seedlings of indigenous and ornamental plants and trees were planted during the past year.

To prevent water and soil erosion, the city has planted at least 500 tree saplings along the stretch of the La Mesa creek at North Fairview.

The city government also has embarked on a massive planting of neem and eucalyptus trees, whose leaves are said to provide aromatic scents that drive dengue-carrying mosquitoes, in the city's 142 public elementary and secondary schools.

Bautista said he has been actively promoting park development, including the introduction of pockets of greenery in center islands and along waterway embankments, to improve the cityscape and in mitigating the ill-effects of climate change, especially in the area of reducing carbon emissions.

"We want to grow trees that will remind us of the country's rich historical and cultural heritage. While we may not outlive these trees, there will be younger generations that will appreciate them more," Bautista added.

Aside from tree-planting initiative, the city has also completed conducting an inventory of its greenhouse gas emissions from government operations to indicate the continuing commitment to mitigate the impact of climate change.

With the inventory, it will be easier for the city government to adopt mitigation strategies and policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city.

Greenhouse gases also include methane gas, nitrous oxide, water vapor and fluorinated carbons, which are commonly used as refrigerants in air-conditioning units, chillers and refrigerators.

Meanwhile, to resolve the malnutrition, a Quezon City councilor asked school officials and local residents to promote urban farming and gardening in the city's public schools and residences.

Councilor Allan Benedict Reyes of the city's third district said that school and home-based urban farming project if initiated would at least minimize hunger among schoolchildren and local residents.

"This would help people to copeup with rising food cost. I was surprised to find out that one kilo of red onions surged to as much as P200 per kilo in the wet market during the heavy rains," Reyes added.

Medical experts in the past have correlated malnutrition as one of the major causes on a child's sub-par academic performance level, prompting the city government to come up with measures resolving the problem.