Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the planting of 3,500 Benguet pine trees within the compound of The Mansion in Baguio City to restore the smell of pine trees.
He earlier raised concerns that Baguio was already losing its pine trees, saying visitors and the residents as well could no longer smell the fragrance of the trees that made Baguio famous for as a tourist spot, apart from its cold weather.
Ralph Pablo, Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Cordillera Administrative Region executive director, said about 350 Presidential Security Group members recently took part in the tree-planting activity in the two-hectare open ground of The Mansion, the official summer palace of the Philippine president.
“Secretary Cimatu’s order was to saturate Baguio with the smell of pine trees again and restore the city’s claim to being the City of Pines,” he said.
During last February's Philippine Military Academy alumni homecoming, Cimatu cited the dwindling number of Benguet pine trees in Baguio, the summer capital of the country.
He immediately ordered a conduct of an inventory on the number of pine trees, and to come up with solutions to preserve and protect them.
According to Pablo, an inventory showed the city’s trees number 2,498,019 within its 5,750-hectare territory.
Benguet pine trees, measuring up to 124 centimeters in diameter, numbered 351,493 or 14 percent of the total count.
Of the total Benguet pine trees, 79 percent or 277,148 were concentrated in areas classified as “closed forest” or “closed canopy,” such as in Camp John Hay reservation and forest parks near the Teachers’ Camp and the PMA.
The city’s open forest, such as the area where the 3,500 saplings were planted, had 70,735 Benguet pine trees with 3,610 others found in residential areas.
Pablo blamed the intensified construction boom and expanding urban sprawl as among the reasons for the noticeable decline of the pine trees.
He told the regional office to discourage lot owners applying for cutting permits to spare the pine trees.