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I love trees, they make places look more pleasant but it’s not just its social benefits that we should focus on. What happened in Iligan City has made a lot of people investigate what went wrong and what Filipinos can do to prevent this from happening again. The answer of course boils down to planting more trees. The benefits of having trees around can be categorized into communal, economic, environmental, and social benefits which will be discussed below.
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Their social relevance does not only touch beautification of the environment but also the lives of those who have planted them. Often, we associate ourselves with the trees we have planted, and sometimes we even carve hearts on them to show the world we made a promise to love someone forever since trees seem to last forever minus of course the fact that some trees are also cut down. Do you remember that song that goes, tie a yellow ribbon on the old oak tree? It's a reminder of one social benefit -the kind that one can never replace i.e. memories.
Trees moderate the climate. They improve the quality of the air that we breathe, they help in conserving water and also encourages wildlife. In the case of Iligan City, trees would have prevented the flood.
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Trees are usually private property especially when planted on a private land but even if they are owned by someone else, the community benefits in having them around. In cities, trees are very important because they have several engineering and architectural functions and also provide privacy for townhouses, emphasize views of certain buildings and in the case of large cities in the Philippines –screen out views that aren’t so nice to look at. Apart from all these, trees also reduce glare and reflection making driving during the daytime a lot easier. They are also a great way to direct pedestrian traffic and prevent people from walking too far from the sidewalk.
Trees have value even when they are not cut down. However since there are a number of species, it is difficult to determine their exact economic value. I remember one of my professors in the National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP NCPAG) saying that we should compute the amount of oxygen being produced by one tree multiplied by the cost i.e. oxygen in tanks that hospitals use and declare that as the value of the tree. This means that if a logger cuts one tree down without replacing it, the logger would have to pay for the oxygen costs since he or she has just deprived a number of individuals a certain amount of oxygen in the air. This is of course very drastic but it shows that no one seem to think of trees in such a point of view. If everyone did, no one would probably cut down a tree without replacing it with ten trees.
The direct economic benefit of having trees around has something to do with energy costs. For example, a house that has a lot of trees around it would not require the use of air conditioning all the time. Homes with lots of trees also have more value than homes without trees. Landscaped homes cost a lot these days so this means that if you are planning to sell your home at one point, it would be best to invest on trees.
(By Sigrid Salucop)