Last Updated on
Ms. Claire Bea, US Foreign Service Officer of the of the United of States Department of State, this week visited Pueto Princesa City, which is one of the assisted cities under the Cities Development Initiatives- Strengthening Urban Resilience through Growth and Equity (CDI-SURGE).
SURGE is an initiative in accelerating and sustaining inclusive growth in the country’s emerging economies, outside Metro Manila.
Depending on the most urgent needs of a city, USAID provides a range of technical assistance, drawing from resources in economic growth, health, energy, environment, governance, and education to assist the secondary cities achieve resilience and inclusive growth.
CDI-SURGE cities in the country include Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Tagbilaran, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Legazpi, and Zamboanga.
On that same day, the City Environment and Natural Resources Office led by the City ENRO himself, Atty. Carlo B. Gomez, conducted the tree assessment in a private resort/ accommodation establishment located in Brgy. Bancao-Bancao.
He formed two teams composed of five staff each team. He was assisted by Senior Environmental Management Specialist (SEMS) Mary Ann Joylle M. Madriñan and SEMS Forester Zorina Arellano in supervising the two i-Tree teams.
The private resort, Dang Maria covers an area of more than two hectares.
“Ms. Claire Bea, US Foreign Service Officer, witnessed the process of conducting the ITree Inventory while Atty. Carlo Gomez, City ENRO and ITree advocate shared that as part of their environment management program, they earthballed 500 Balayong Trees, mobilized the CommuniAct program, release stewardship certificates in the planting trees, procure an earthballing machine worth P 25M as a result of the ITree tool,” USAID SURGE said in a statement.
During the assessment, the City ENRO used the i-Tree Eco Tools, a collection of urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools, designed and developed by the United States Forest Service (USFS), to quantify and value ecosystem services provided by trees including pollution removal, carbon sequestration, avoided carbon emissions, avoided water runoff, and more.
“ITree tool is an aggressive approach in combatting climate change and to save the remaining trees and urban forests of the city,” Atty. Gomez explained.
It is a freely available software that helps planners understand their urban forest resource and the ecosystem services it provides, and use that information to support sustainable urban development and economic growth.
Understanding urban forest’s structure, function and value can promote management decisions that will improve human health and environmental quality.
The i-Tree Eco is designed to use field data from complete inventories or randomly located plots throughout a community along with local pollution and meteorological data to quantify urban forest structure, environmental effect and value to communities.
Data such as total tree height, diameter breast height (DBH), base crown height, crown, crown light exposure, and species will be encoded in the application, to be interpreted by the USFS.
“Through this initiative, the office (City ENRO) believes that this is an effective strategy to protect the forest in the urban and peri urban areas of the city. They also aim to maintain their status as a carbon-neutral city. While the city is moving towards sustaining this initiative, they expressed that USAID/SURGE continue to support them in their endeavors through value adding technical training, research and monitoring,” the statement said.
As part of their next steps, the City ENRO plans to develop a system to rate the environmental standings of tourism establishments based on the eco-system services provided by the trees, a policy to encourage resort and hotel owners to dedicate a space for planting trees, and; to continue their roadshow moving to other CDI-SURGE cities.
“USAID-SURGE commits to support the City Government of Puerto Princesa in strengthening their competencies as an LGU on climate change resiliency, disaster risk reduction and urban development,” the statement further said.