The concern for the trees in Dumaguete stems from previous projects (wounding rope lights around them, the Christmas tree project on the acacia) and most recently the cement circles filled with earth around each tree.
In February 2006, our group invited Dr. Portia G. Lapitan, professor at UP Los Banos Department of Forestry & Biological Sciences, and director of the Makiling Center for Mountain Ecosystems, to assess our city trees especially those with rope lights, and to give a talk on “Integrating Trees into our Vision and Development Perspective”.
Tips on right pruning and caring of trees were part of her talk. During her assessment of our trees, she specifically brought our attention to the piling of earth around the acacia tree trunk at the Quezon Park.
We recently communicated with her and sent her pictures of the recent cement circles filled with earth. This is her response:
“The best that can be done is to have the soil within the confines of the “concreted” circle removed. They can leave the concrete circle for people to sit on but the soil “dumped” within the circle should go.
The “rootlets” have to have supply of air to survive. Only when they are well and healthy can they on the other hand support the life of the tree.
Care should be taken that the roots are not exposed, much more so are not harmed when the soil is taken out. Maintain the same level of soil prior to the putting up of the concrete circle. Make sure the area external to the concrete circle have holes/ pore spaces for air to come into the soil.
I would suspect that some cement may have been left around the circle which would definitely interfere with the diffusion of air into the soil in this area.”
We also refer to the website from Aggie Horticulture on Protecting Existing Landscape Trees from Construction Damage Due to Grade Changes.
In general as a rule, the best thing for our trees is to leave them alone but prune away dead branches.
Dumaguete City has a laudable City ordinance nr. 81 series of 2002. An ordinance mandating the planting of trees alongside City streets and prescribing prohibitive acts to these trees. It also mandates the forming of a special project group to see that this ordinance is implemented.
If such a group had been formed and is active, then the citizenry would not be confused as whom to approach for its concerns regarding trees.
A great acacia tree by the bell tower is an example. A rubberized rope is around its trunk, and is supporting an electric post which is contrary to this ordinance. Remnants of the rope lights are still wound around its upper trunk.
Several attempts on my part to bring attention to this to different agencies (ENRO, GSO, an employee of City Engineering) did not yield any result. I hope this grand tree can be finally freed of these burdens.
Esther C. Windler
Bagacay, Dumaguete City