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Philippines official facing charges for cutting trees

by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Sept 2, 2008
A Philippines national park official could face jail time for overseeing the removal of decades-old trees from a historic site in Manila, the country's environment department said Tuesday.

The government agency said it was "saddened" and "horrified" by the cutting of 29 trees, including nine mahogany and rosewood trees, at the Roma park in front of Manila's cathedral.

The park is part of the Intramuros, the walled 17th century fortress by the Pasig river that was the first seat of Spanish colonial government in the Southeast Asian archipelago.

Park administrator Maria Ana Harper could be charged with illegal cutting of trees, which is punishable by a two-year jail term and a fine, the environment department said.

"Those trees were certainly part of our heritage," said regional department chief Corazon Davis.

"They were mute witnesses to momentous events which transpired in the Walled City and deserve the same care and affection... accorded to structures and artefacts in the Intramuros area."

The department said Harper's office sought a permit in May to cut trees at the park for landscaping and development and to "replace them with historically appropriate trees which would not block the facade of Manila Cathedral."

Harper denied the accusations, telling AFP she had asked the contractor to move the nine hardwood trees to another part of the park. She said a subordinate had mistakenly given the go-ahead for the trees to be removed.

"I will apologise, I am very sorry," she said.

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Recreated wetlands center of debate
Chesapeake, Va. (UPI) Aug 31, 2008
Activists allege ongoing attempts to revitalize wetlands in Virginia and North Carolina will not restore the sites to their original value.

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