The newly lit Acacia Tunnel in Barangay Inagawan-sub, Puerto Princesa City is facing criticisms for possible adverse effects that more than 4,000 brightly lit LED bulbs could cause the local ecosystem to be disrupted in a harmful way.
Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) spokesperson Jovic Fabello warned that a variety of adverse effects on the local environment are not limited to light pollution.
Heat coming from the LED bulbs also disrupt the acacia trees’ normal functions and damage its barks. “Kung tatanungin talaga kung may effect ang mga ilaw na ‘yan, may effect talaga sa natural flora and fauna. Sa trees pa lang, ‘yong init na galing sa light bulbs, eh 4,220 piraso ‘yon, malaki na talaga ang puwedeng maging damage sa mga puno,” he said.
“Sa animals naman, for sure, aalis na talaga ang mga bats doon. It will also disrupt predator-prey relationships. Ang mga hayop kasi naco-confuse sila sa ilaw dahil mayroon silang natural cycle. Maapektuhan din ang kanilang mga reproductive cycles,” he added.
Aside from the heat, the light from the bulbs tricks the trees’ leaves into opening its stomatal pores, as this is a natural response to daylight. However, if the pores are open longer than their normal time, the leaves become vulnerable to air pollution and lose water due to evaporation in the heat.
Fabello said he was unsure if the tree lighting was properly consulted with experts on the area’s local environment since the project did not involve any clearances or permits from the PCSD.
He suggested some measures that those involved in the project could do to avoid further harm to the natural environment. “For mitigation, siguro dapat mag-come up ang city ng sistema na hindi madadagdagan ang light pollution, like dapat four hours lang nan aka-on ang ilaw. Pangalawa, dapat lagyan ng takip ang mga ilaw para ‘yong init galing sa bulbs ay diretso sa lupa at hindi nag-i-spread sa mga puno.
Also, dapat hindi dikit-dikit ang mga ilaw, kung puwede 1-meter apart,” he said.
“Also, that site it being developed as a CBST (Community-Based Sustainable Tourism) site. Kaso, it is located on a highway. Kung magkakaroon pa ng mga structures doon para sa tourism, obstruction pa ‘yon, at alam ko may guidelines pa ang DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) doon,” Fabello added.
Palawan News sought comment from the city Oplan Linis Program and the City Information Office (CIO), but were unavailable.