A yearly budget for relocating trees that will be affected by road widening and other infrastructure projects has been proposed in the House of Representatives.
Proposed by Leyte Representative Richard Gomez, House Bill 9124 seeks to allocate funds for the procurement, maintenance, and use of at least one set of machinery known as "earth-balling equipment" per region to be used in road improvement and other developmental projects.
The allocation will be lodged under the annual budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Gomez’s bill defines an earth-balling machine as a mechanized apparatus specifically designed to relocate trees that obstruct road-widening efforts.
"The earth-balling method guarantees the survival and continued growth of the transplanted tree, thereby maintaining the environmental balance and ecological integrity of the area. This process is essential as it allows for the coexistence of infrastructure development and environmental sustainability," Gomez said in a statement.
Gomez said that the DPWH does earth-balling methods manually because there is no budget for the purchase of earth-balling machines.
"This is a laborious and expensive process, and I believe that it is because of this that tree cutting permits are methodically granted to DPWH for road-widening projects. Let us bring down the number of trees cut to the bare minimum," he said.
Gomez said the local government of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan purchased an earth-balling machine in 2019 for P16 million to save Balayong trees from road-widening projects, and those trees were successfully replanted in a 7.3-hectare park.
"Trees are worth so much more to us alive than dead. On average, a tree absorbs 25 kilos of carbon dioxide each year. Trees [also] give us shade, prevent erosion, prevent flooding, and enhance the beauty of our surroundings," the lawmaker said.
"We need to save as many trees as we can," he added. —VBL, GMA Integrated News