The “Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje granted permission to SM Baguio to cut 172 trees in the mall’s property facing Governor Pack Road, paving the way for the mall’s expansion which will include a centralized parking and bus terminal in the area,” SunStar reports.
Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said that “the trees that will be cut are not pine trees but other smaller trees, while the pine trees will all be earth-balled.” Mayor Domogan also said that the development will create more employment and enhance the tourism industry in Baguio City.
On the other hand, SM said that it “will be reballing, not cutting” trees. It also said that “it has been working closely with the Baguio City Government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – and had received the necessary permits – to re-ball and relocate 142 trees in the shopping mall area.”
The SM City expansion plan has sparked protests. There’s an online petition with 4,833 signatures as of 19 January 2012. A group, which also threatened to boycott SM, claimed that “uprooted or earth-balled pine trees above 10 years old have a very low survival rate when transplanted as exemplified in previous earth-balling activities inside Camp John Hay”.
Some say progress is good and the pine trees, which will be replanted, would still be saved. Other say that the Baguio pine trees, or any trees for that matter, represents the environmental balance. Still others say that they go to Baguio City not to go to a mall, but to enjoy the unique features offered by Baguio, including the pine trees.
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