Why trees are better on the ground

In the spirit of discourse in which the previous post was written, Indolent Indio is posting this piece from Michael Bengwayan of Cordillera Ecological Center. Although we can argue with prats who run away at the first sign of debate, we cannot argue with science. 

We assume good faith in this piece, as we assume good faith on the part of SM.

[UPDATE: According to the Internet, Forestry professor, arborist, and urban forestry practitioner Armando Palijon has a different take on the issue. He says balling the trees is useless and that SM should instead use the money on compensatory activities like planting more trees. Check it out here.]

The Lies and More Lies of SM About Their Tree Massacre

By Michael A. Bengwayan

For the past days, some articles have been written obviously by people who are on the side of SM but ignorant about trees and can’t even tell the difference of what a live tree is from a dead one. Some disinformation have also been written about me and our head legal officer Atty. Cheryl Chyt L. Daytec Daytec. SM is desperate as it has lost so much goodwill as well as income and it will do everything–even to maximize lies and distort truths –just to get into your pockets. But the people of Baguio are wiser than all of SM. They see through the facade of SM’s pride parade, arrogance and greed.

Allow me to let you see through the lies of SM’s so-called Green Expansion Garden in the Sky project. They say that their project is “certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the internationally recognized standard for green building design and construction developed by the US Green Building Council.”

[Indolent note: The actual claim on SM’s website is:

The project aims to be the first mall in the North Region to be certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the internationally recognized standard for green building design and construction developed by the USGBC.

The project is designed to receive a LEED Gold Rating, which requires a minimum of 60 of the listed points, subject to the review and approval of the Green Building Council.]

However, Jennivine Kwan, Vice President for International Operations of USGBC denied this claim. She said they have never certified any project of SM and do not intend to work with SM.

[Indolent note 2: SM does claim membership in the US Green Building Council:

SM Prime Holdings has partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council. As a member of USGBC, the company committed itself to the mission and guiding principles of the organization in fostering a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy saving green buildings.

SM Prime Holdings is on the US Green Building Council membership directory, though. We’re not sure what that means.]

LEEDS Philippines also said SM’s trumpeting of its so called Green Project is a case of Greenwashing, (Disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image) and called on people to sign the petition against SM.

And rightly so. Why? Because building a garden in the sky is only an artificial thing. There is no substitute to God-made woods, forest or natural gardens. An artificial Garden in the Sky has all the following disadvantages.

First, when you put soil on top of a building and plant trees on it, you are negating the carbon sequestration capability of the trees. The carbon absorbed by the trees accumulate in the few feet of soil on top of the concrete roof and since the trees are not naturally connected to the earth, the amassed carbon dioxide volatilizes back to the atmosphere through the surface soil as there is no deeper ground for the COs to leach. Thus, instead carbon dioxide being trapped, it is released continually to the atmosphere causing harm and danger.

Second, the natural capillary action of tree roots to raise water level to as high as 200 feet deep is totally removed because they are not in contact to the earth. With this, there will be more difficulty in water access.

Third, oxygen release by trees is lessened because a disequilibrium in CO2-O2 exchange. More CO2 are released while the trees, which can never reach their growth potential in terms of height, density and sprawl, will have limited capability to create and to release oxygen.

The problem is, SM wants to invent better what God has made. That is bullshit. There is no substitute to what God has made. Not even science can replace that.

Is this so hard to understand?

Does anyone from SM want to chime in?


  1. Baguio today is far from the summer retreat that it once was, if you look at the city “skyline” from SM Baguio, you will find that the City of Pines before is now a City of Tin Roofs and Majestic Shanties. It’s amazing how people criticize others of not thinking too much about the environment yet they themselves have contributed to their city’s degradation. So much for a beautiful city carefully planned by the Americans.baguio_aurora_hill.jpg

  2. Ummm…contrary to what was written on Bengwayan’s article, SM never said that they are LEED certified. Check the image url on Facebook that I found, it shows that SMBG is designed to be LEED certified (in fact, it aims to receive a LEED gold
    rating). But SM City Baguio IS REGISTERED with LEED

    The name is under SM Prime Holdings Incorporated for verification:

    By the way, here’s the image. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=412730175411738&set=o.276576382396851&type=1%00

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