No trees cut in SM Baguio, DENR says

Posted at 04/17/2012 8:49 PM | Updated as of 04/18/2012 7:48 AM

MANILA, Philippines - No trees have been cut in the extension and development of SM City Baguio, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Tuesday.

The DENR, in a press statement, said the procedure only involves earth-balling and replanting of the trees elsewhere.

DENR representatives and UP Los Baños professor n Forestry Dr. Jose Sargento confirmed this, the statement said.

Sargento said trees were earth-balled overnight.

The DENR said it authorized SM City Baguio to conduct the earth-balling program.

It added that it required SM to plant over 5,000 trees to replace 182 of the 2,000 trees within the mall property that would be relocated.

Aside from the roof garden that will be filled with over 300 trees that will serve as an elevated park, SM will plant over 50,000 trees in the next 3 years, the department said.

The earth-balling, however, has been temporarily suspended following the issuance of an environmental protection order by a Baguio City court.

Paje defends SM City's earth-balling

DENR Secretary Ramon Paje, Jr. defended SM City Baguio's earth-balling of trees.

In a multi-sectoral meeting that was presided by Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Paje said earth-balling is a procedure wherein the tree and its root ball are carefully excavated, wrapped and transferred.

DENR-Cordillera Administrative Region Director Clarence Baguilat, Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Baguio Representative Bernardo  Vergara and Virgilio Bautista of the Baguio Regional Development Council were present during the meeting.

SM City Baguio was represented by Hans T. Sy, president of SM Prime Holdings, Inc.; Annie S. Garcia, president of SM Supermalls; and Bien C. Mateo VP-Operations.

The group opposing the earth-balling of trees was represented by lawyer Cheryl Daytec-Yangot.

Environmental sustainability

During the meeting, SM officials explained their expansion program showing the environmental sustainability of the project.

SM officials reiterated their commitment to comply with all the conditions required by the permits issued to them and assured that they will respect courts decisions on the issue.

SM also agreed with Robredo's proposal for a joint inspection of project.