The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has partnered with the Rotary International., South Luzon Tollways Corp. (SLTC) and other stakeholder groups to plant 6,000 seedlings comprising of narra, goldern shower and pili species at the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

Some 700 volunteers from the DENR, SLTC, the local government units of Calamba in Laguna and Sto. Tomas in Batangas, and the Rotary Clubs of Makati Rockwell and San Francisco del Monte took part in greening the five kilometer-stretch of the expressway, from Calamba, Laguna to Sto. Tomas, Batangas, over the weekend.

With the theme, Greener and Litter-free Tollways, the tree planting started at 8 o’clock in the morning. On hand to lead their volunteers in the activity included Jerome Vinarao of the RC-Makati Rockwell; Isaac David, president of South Luzon Tollway Corp.; former DENR Undersecretary Rolando Metin; DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo; DENR-Region 4A officials led by Executive Director Nilo Tamoria.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje expressed appreciation for the continuing support being extended by the various sectors of the society to the National Greening Program NGP), saying the program is the government’s response to international calls to address global problems like climate change and biodiversity loss with local actions.

“The NGP is designed to address global as well as local problems. By planting more trees, we are enhancing the absorbing capacity of our forests for carbon dioxide, which is considered the major driver of global warming and climate change,” Paje explained.

Paje underscored the significance of greening the country’s major highways, particularly the SLEX, not only to reduce air and noise pollution caused by motor vehicles but also to address global warming.

“The SLEX as well as the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) are our gateway out of Metro Manila. Thousands of motor vehicles ply these expressways every day, emitting fumes that affect not only our health but also our environment. The trees serve not only to absorb the carbon dioxide emitted by the motor vehicles thereby reducing the volume of the greenhouse gas reaching the atmosphere, but they also beautify the roadsides,” Paje said.

Carbon dioxide is singled out as the major cause of global warming that result in climate change. Trees not only use carbon dioxide during their food-making process known as photosynthesis, but they are also known to sequester carbon dioxide in their trunks.