Friday, June 11, 2010

An Exceptional Tree

These are just the roots

There are two huge Banyan trees in front of the Honolulu Zoo. In fact, a number of them scattered in the city. I've often wondered why the trees  in Honolulu are very well maintained and it's only on this trip that I learned the local government has an "Exceptional Tree Program".

A whole bunch of trees around the city are part of  the program, and anyone can apply to have  a tree "exceptionalized"--whether it's in a public place or in their own property. To be considered an exceptional tree a criteria has to be met--it should be historic or ancient, aesthetically pleasing, etc etc, complete details can be found on the state's website. When the tree has been declared "exceptional", it will be cared for and protected by the state.

Being a highly touristic state, the city  government realized early on that trees contribute to the beauty of Honolulu, and were alarmed that rapid development would destroy heritage-type trees. They passed the "exceptional tree law" in 1995. You can say Honolulu was an early-mover in the green movement.

With this program in place, there is a general awareness of tree preservation.  Many ordinary trees will have a chance to grow into exceptional ones, specially since the local government has made trees one of its priorities. That's what I call smart and forward thinking.

The committee created to oversee the exceptional tree program has to include a certified arborist and a practicing landscape architect, and the rest are chosen based on their involvement and interest in community beautification. All these committee members are appointed by the mayor. No wonder Honolulu looks like one big manicured garden--they leave the research and recommendations to the experts.

Unfortunately in Manila, decisions involving the city's aesthetics are left with goverment officials, some of whom have absolutely no taste or inclination towards things beautiful. We are then subjected to horrific fuschia road signs and public urinals in Makati,  baby blue flyovers in Ortigas, and diamante-shaped lamposts on Roxas Boulevard.

It's my wish that the new president will appoint a beautification committee--okay, that sounds frivolous for a third world country--perhaps he can appoint an "urban aesthetics committee" composed of respected architects and designers who can make tasteful recommendations. Then we will really be on the road to recovery (from bad taste).

1 comment:

Nicole said...

love love those trees and i totally agree on having an aesthetics committee to avoid the perils of those neon coconut trees and hideous multi color street lamps.
someone like rachy cuna or budji layug.
ps - nice blog :)


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