Cement firm Lafarge Republic, Inc. (LRI) on Tuesday said that it will not cut down thousands of trees in Angono, Rizal province but will only relocate them.
The company clarified that the number of trees it inventoried in the area is only 5,600, not 6,500 as earlier claimed by The Manila Times. It said that the trees will be relocated from its quarry site in Barangay San Isidro to “host communities.”
“Our well-intentioned plans for tree relocation and management seem to have been casually communicated as a tree-cutting program without understanding our full program nor our commitment,” LRI said in a statement.
LRI was referring to the Tree Relocation Management Program prepared by its concessionaire, Batong Angono Aggregates Corp. (BAAC), which aims to “minimize tree-cutting and planting 50 new seedlings for every affected tree.”
The firm added that their officials inspected their target quarry area which BAAC calls “north wall” along with Angono Mayor Gerry Calderon, the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer (MENRO) and other local government and barangay officials and found out that most trees there are not fully grown “and therefore suitable for relocation, rather than cutting.”
“Out of these total affected trees, more than 80% will be replanted in other parts of the quarry or within the host communities. In addition, the company committed to plant 50 new seedlings per affected tree, for a total of 280,000 new trees,” LRI said.
It added that BAAC has drafted its environment impact mitigation plan under the government’s Environment Protection and Enhancement Program (EPEP), under which the firm will build settling ponds and sand traps to catch fine aggregates washed away by upstream water, install a drainage system to manage and regulate the sudden flow of water, stabilize slopes to prevent soil erosion, relocate trees, grow new ones and plant indigenous vegetation in other areas within the site or in the host communities.
BAAC has already installed three drainage systems within the “north wall”, LRI said.
Moreover, the company added that it will soon come up with a watershed sustainability plan, which intends to formulate a flood simulation model, strategic framework and policies “to ensure the watershed’s sustainability that can mitigate risks of flooding in the area.”
Richard Gappi, Gappi, Community Affairs Assistant Officer of the municipality of Angono, earlier said that LRI asked permission from the local government to cut down 6,469 trees.
Calderon said that he sought the help of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to assess the target quarry area. He added that he is opposed to the planned quarrying in the barangay.