Benguet pine trees injured through tying of electrical and barbed wires as post making it vulnerable to pest infestation.

The Watershed and Water Resources Research Development and Extension Center (WWRRDEC) is set to conduct IEC/advocacy activities and continue its research initiatives on Benguet pine and bark beetle in 2020 as a way to support the LGU in implementing the Environment Code in Baguio City.

The Ordinance Numbered 18, Series of 2016 or the Environment Code of the City of Baguio is believed to be the solution in saving Benguet pine trees from further destruction.

This code mandates every local government unit to steadfastly implement comprehensive and sustainable development practices to protect, conserve, and mitigate ensuing problems related to environment and natural resources.

Article 32 of the code delves on the preservation and conservation of pine trees and other endemic and indigenous tree species.

The prohibited acts in Section 226.c include boring, girdling, nailing, concreting, choking and burning of the basal part and other forms of mechanical injuries to the trees.

The code also provides corresponding fines and penalties on violation of this section.

Though simple, many are found violating or ignoring it that leads to the eventual death of pine trees.  These are usually observed in built-up areas such as picnic grounds, and residential areas.

These damaged trees when weakened are vulnerable to bark beetle infestation and bring chronological conundrums on the health and ecological services of Benguet pine forest ecosystem.

In a recent study by an Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau’s (ERDB) researcher for her MS thesis, it was found that majority of the death of Benguet Pine trees in Camp John Hay were triggered by the injuries inflicted by man to trees during developmental activities.

On the other hand, Article 33 of the code deals on the information and education campaign on pine trees in the city. In Section 233, it discusses about Pine Tree Festival Season which is the “Tree Planting Months” (June – September each year) purposely to instill awareness among the people on the present state of the environment, the importance of pine trees and all laws/ordinances and policies relative to the caring of Benguet pine forest.

Article 33 also encourages the citizens of the City of Baguio from all walks of life to participate in the tree planting and maintenance activities as well as encourage other government agencies and private sectors to join the advocacy programs of the city concerning the care of the pine forest ecosystem.

The planting of diverse tree species compatible with pine trees to promote biodiversity and resilience to pest and diseases is also being sought in the Article.  Rhandy S. Tubal, WWRRDEC