I’ve always thought it ironic that Dumaguete has brownouts every so often, seeing as we have quite enough geothermal power in the region to keep us humming merrily along. Reading about the Energy Development Corporation needing to cut down trees to get access to more of our geothermal resources in Valencia was particularly troubling. I’m going to have to disregard the editorial’s call for less emotion, more information; beyond the importance of facts and figures, we really should care about something that can’t fight for itself.
Having grown up on a campus filled with trees, I’ve always had an affinity for them. One of my most treasured memories was convincing my father to build me a swing, which he did, attaching it to one of the giant trunks of a star apple tree in our backyard. I was on that swing all day everyday, errant falling caterpillars bedamned. It’s why I have very little affinity for giant swathes of houses in subdivisions that sit baking under the sun with absolutely no shade over them. It’s just too barren, too soulless.
The mentality seems to be that trees will grow back. So what if we’ll cut one down? We can always plant more. This is a little too genocidal for my taste. We don’t say it’s okay to off a few hundred humans, we’re always procreating after all, do we?
There’s something to be said about not raping our land in the name of progress. Even the most cursory Google search on the shows how much we’ve denuded our land of its native forests. Compared to the tree coverage in the early 1950s, Negros Oriental is a wasteland. I am aware that Brazilian waxes are a thing, it’s just not as attractive to use the same mentality on our own trees.
It happens here too. The other day, they cleared a plot of land in front of my building. I initially thought it was a crew on clean-up duty; they do this sometimes. They’ll prune trees to ensure the branches won’t snap under the burden of too much snow and fall over power lines if a particularly intense snowstorm occurs. As the day wore on, I began to realize that this was more than pruning. They were decimating three old maples on that particular patch of land, slowly cutting the trees down to size, slicing off big blocks of their trunks then uprooting the stumps. Et voila, another condominium shall rise. The in-joke is that Toronto builds condos on top of condos. Our skyline isn’t complete without cranes perched on top of concrete behemoths that slowly reach towards the sky.
Watching those trees being cut down made me sad. I think it’s because as enduring and as strong as they are, the reality is, they’re helpless. Think about it. You’re minding your own business, doing what you’ve been put on earth to do, giving back to society and suddenly some lunatic with a chainsaw comes for you. Trees don’t have defense mechanisms to employ against men intent on getting them out of the way in the name of progress. They just stand silent and watch themselves get hewed down. This is not Middle Earth. Ents are not going to lose their collective cool and go on a raging stampede to destroy Isengard. The only revenge trees have happens when they’re gone and soil erosion, flash floods and climate change get to wreak havoc. It isn’t going to be pretty. Then again, what we’re doing to our own trees isn’t, either.
I don’t see why we have to cut so many trees down instead of thinking of ways to incorporate them into a building’s structure, or transplanting them somewhere else. Yes, it’s costly and time consuming, but shouldn’t we should play the long game and realize how essential trees are to the environment before it’s too late? And even if it’s already too late, I really don’t see the sense in doing all we can to hasten the process. Planting new trees isn’t enough. We should also care for the ones we have left.