UPC revises infra plans to avoid cutting of trees

THE UPC administration formally disclosed Friday (23 October 2015) that it would not cut down trees to pave the way for new buildings in the campus in Lahug, Cebu City.

Sitting as panel during the consultation forum with media and stakeholders were Dean Liza D. Corro, Campus Arch. Dioscoro Alesna Jr., and Campus Development and Maintenance Officer Engr. Albert B. Bascon.

The UPC campus has a total land area of 12.8 hectares, but informal settlers are occupying almost half of it.

There are 338 trees of 52 different species in the UPC campus.

“Don’t ever think that we do not care for the environment. We are on the same page here,” Dean Corro told about 70 students who attended the forum.

The administration planners have to go back to the drawing board to see to it that the planned infrastructures won’t harm any tree.

“It’s a compromise because we have to reduce certain areas, we have to follow certain standards for buildings,” said Alesna Jr.

Alesna said they didn’t really know if the planned facilities would affect the trees until they visualized the actual building layout.

He said the plan now is still to comply with the Department of Education’s (DepEd) standard classroom size at 7m x 9m for classrooms, but the corridor will be narrower at 6 ft. instead of 8 ft. to spare the trees on the site.

“We cannot give you everything. If you want better buildings, then there are some sacrifices that have to be made. But then, if you don’t want any tree to be cut, then that was the solution. We just have to minimize the corridors,” said Dean Corro.

In 2010, the Board of Regents, the highest governing body of the UP System, approved the proposed land use plan for the UP Cebu campus in Lahug and classified it into three zones, namely: the academic zone, academic support services, and open spaces.

The land use plan was zoned up by the UP System’s Office for Design and Planning Initiative.

As suggested by the land use plan, the suitable areas for new buildings are: 1) back and front of guest house; 2) back of the administration building; 3) side and back of the undergraduate building; and 4) the basketball court.

In the infrastructure pipeline are: 1) UP High School building (P4.5M); 2) AS Extension building (P13M); 3) Undergraduate Extension building (P3M); 4) two-story Business Management Cluster (BMC) building.

The two-story BMC building, said Alesna, will entail earth-balling and transfer of a few trees.

Next year, a seven-story, P175-million Science building will be constructed on the area where the clinic and CDMO offices are.

The forum, which was preceded by a tree-planting activity at the AS field in the morning, was in reaction to earlier reports that students were alarmed at the news that the administration was supposedly planning to cut down trees to pave the way for the construction of new buildings.

“I think that was a bit premature ‘outrage.’ We’ll have to prune trees probably, but pruning is not cutting,” said Corro, who led the administration, faculty, students and staff, including the Dean’s Advisory Council and the CDMO, in the tree-planting activity.

Corro said the activity had long been planned before the issue on the supposed cutting of trees surfaced.

“Because I’ve noticed that there’s really a lack of trees, especially here (AS field), and it’s hot and warm,” she said.

Thirty saplings, including mahogany and narra, from the Department of Agriculture were planted.

This is to show everyone that, I think, we don’t have any disagreement between us (administration), the students and the environmentalists,” said Corro. “I don’t think there was supposed to be that kind of disconnect among us, the environmentalists, and the students.”

The dean said that among the universities in Cebu, in terms of ratio between land area and number of trees, UPC is one of those campuses that has the most number of trees.

In a public forum Wednesday last week, UPC’s Supreme Student Council chairperson Justin Balane suggested that the administration should consult environmentalists or come up with alternatives in building facilities without compromising the environment.

Earlier, UPC was supposed to hold a public forum as a requirement for its Department of Environment and Natural Resources application for the construction of new buildings, which would have entailed the cutting of trees.

However, as the new plan avoided the cutting of trees, UPC did not pursue with the requirement. It also wanted to talk first with students who were initially alarmed by the news.

The DENR permit was only necessary because of the anticipated cutting of trees, but since no trees will be harmed under the new plan, the school can forego with the requirement.


(With reports and photos from Leia Pelobello and Gwen Gaviola, Public Information Office)