FROM LEFT: (1st line) Councilor Myka Mabelle Magbanua, Puerto Princesa Vice Mayor Maria Nancy Socrates, Mayor Lucilo Bayron, and 3rd District Palawan Representative Edward Hagedorn. (2nd line) Deputy Mayor Roy Ventura of northwest cluster, PENRO Felizardo Cayatoc, and Councilor Patrick Hagedorn. (File photo from Puerto Princesa City ENRO)

The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) seeks to enhance the city’s Urban Forestry Program by implementing green architecture and landscaping in urban building designs, with a particular focus on schools.

City ENRO chief Atty. Carlo B. Gomez said initiative aims to increase green spaces, mitigate high temperatures, and create more comfortable environments for students.

Gomez emphasized the pressing need to address the soaring temperatures within school buildings, which often result in discomfort for students.

During the recent Pista Y Ang Cagueban event held on June 24, several elementary and secondary schools were identified as planting sites, including Puerto Princesa City National Science National High School, Puerto Princesa Pilot Elementary School, Mateo Jagmis Elementary School, Sicsican Elementary School, Sicsican National High School, as well as schools in Manalo, San Rafael, and Simpocan.

“Napakagandang halimbawa o panimula ang edition na ito na panibagong pamamaraan sa pag address ng climate change na dito gagawin sa kabayanan. Inuna natin mga eskwelahan, bakit eskwelahan? Kasi kalimitan ng mga nag su-suffer ng urban heat yung mga estudyante natin especially mga public o private schools hindi naman naka air conditioned ang mga classrooms, by providing shades ay nakakatulong na bumaba ang temperatura sa mga school yards nila,” Gomez explained.

The City ENRO also intends to collaborate with architects to incorporate landscaping and green architecture in urban building designs for schools in a forward-thinking approach to create sustainable and comfortable learning environments.

Gomez underscored that the initiative not only improves the aesthetic appeal of schools but also contributes to the overall well-being and academic performance of students. Green spaces provide natural cooling, reduce the heat island effect, and improve air quality, thereby fostering a conducive learning environment.

In a bid to bolster the urban forestry program, the environment office also plans to expand its efforts beyond schools including road center islands and other open spaces and public parks within the city’s urban areas like Plaza Cuartel and the City Baywalk

To support these initiatives, the City ENRO has fortified its program management team and adopted the use of i-Tree Eco, an urban forestry analysis and benefits assessment tool developed by the US Forest Service.

This tool enables the quantification and valuation of tree ecosystem services, including pollution removal, carbon sequestration, avoided carbon emissions, and avoided water runoff.

By understanding the structure, function, and value of the urban forest, planners can make informed decisions to promote sustainable urban development and economic growth while improving human health and environmental quality.

“i-Tree is an aggressive approach in combating climate change and saving the remaining trees and urban forests of the city,” Gomez said.

In addition to their efforts, the City ENRO also aimed to encourage household owners to contribute to the urban forestry program by planting at least one tree on their properties.

The city government will provide design guidelines to maximize the use of small lots, ensuring that even limited spaces contribute to the greening of the city.