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Puerto Rico: License to Kill Trees

Trees in Puerto RicoA recent administrative order by Puerto Rico‘s Secretary of Agriculture has created a shock wave of reactions in the blogosphere. In the island of Puerto Rico if a person had to cut down a tree he/she had to request permission form the island's Department of Natural Resources – that was until recently, when the Secretary of the Agency, Javier Velez Arocho, issued an administrative order that automatically grants a “fast track” permission to anyone who wishes to cut a tree.

The order, which grants permission to cut up to ten trees, is automatically granted to anyone who hands in a photograph of the tree/s in question. Prior to this administrative order, any potential tree-cutter had to justify the reason for so doing and a technician from the agency would visit the site to determine that: a) the tree was not a protected species, and b) the reasons given by the person requesting the permission were sound.

Blogger Ivonne Acosta from Sin Mordazas was the first to raise the voice of alarm, summarizing the administrative order in this post:

Miren lo que se incluye en este permiso de Vélez Arocho:
• las personas que interesen tumbar los árboles pueden obtener el permiso el mismo día
• la intención es agilizar el procedimiento (o sea: que se tumben árboles más rápido)
• aplica a todos los municipios menos Ponce y Carolina (que emiten los permisos localmente)
• la orden administrativa aplica de inmediato y habrá un “técnico evaluador”
• el “técnico evaluador” firmará la autorización el mismo día siempre y cuando los documentos presentados provean información suficiente
• esta “información suficiente” no incluye el examen por parte del DRNA de los árboles a cortarse, basta con que los que quieren tumbarlos presenten dos fotos de cada árbol
• el peticionario debe presentar evidencia de la tenencia de los terrenos donde ubican los árboles a tumbar (o permiso si son estatales o municipales)

Look at what this permission from Vélez Arocho includes:
-the person who wishes to cut the trees can obtain the permit the same day
-the intention is to speed up the procedure (to cut trees faster)
-it applies to all municipalities except Ponce and Carolina which issue permissions locally
-the administrative order is of immediate application and there will be an evaluating technician
the evaluating technician will sign the authorization the same day if the documents provide sufficient information
– this “sufficient information” does not include the personal examination by the Department of Natural Resources it is sufficient for the person requesting the authorization to present two photos of each tree
-the petitioner has to present evidence that he/she owns the land on which the trees stand (or a permit granted by the municipality if the land is a property of the town or of the state)

Determined to keep her finger on the pulse of the situation, two days after her first entry Acosta republished the island's El Vocero newspaper editorial (ES) and caricature (ES), both of which provided commentary on the latest developments. She also went a step further and published a petition (ES), which at the time of this post has been signed by more than a hundred persons.

Other bloggers have joined Ivonne Acosta in what can be considered the biggest blog wave in Puerto Rico's blogosphere to date. Satirical blog El Ñame (ES) and blogger Edwin Vazques from Cargas y Descargas (ES), who says:

Para los que se estén preguntando por qué el límite de 10 árboles tiene que ver con el sistema métrico. Tiene que ser. Seis árboles suena muy anticristo. Cinco trae cuestionamientos estadísticos. Uno lo tumba cualquiera sin que el vecino se entere. Ocho es un número algo estúpido. Ah, pero diez, he ahí un número redondo.

For those of you that are trying to make sense of why the limit of ten it is associated with the decimal system. It has to be. Six trees sounds like the Antichrist. Five would bring statistical questioning. One can be chopped down by anyone without their neighbor noticing. Eight is a stupid number. Ah, but ten, there you have a rounded number…

Other blogs (all ES) have joined in the call for Javier Velez Arocho to revoke the administrative order, including Elco Lao, Mario Nuñez form DigiZen, Siluz from Escribiendo en Vos Alta, Cesar from La Opinion que Nadie Pidió, who, along with Enfogoná from Clientela furiosa writes a moving plea to “save our trees”, Coloquiando con Don Segundo y Doña Bianca which calls for “urgent action” and Pepe Grillo la Guía Verde, who refers to the order as “treecide”.

Myrisa from En el país de los ciegos… has been very pro-active, e-mailing other bloggers and asking them to put comment sections on their blogs so that more people can join the campaign. Her plea seems to be working – blogger Pegao from Sal Pa’ Fuera has already posted a link on his blog directing visitors to Ivonne Acosta's online petition. Two Facebook groups have also been created, here and here.

There is no doubt that the Puerto Rican blogosphere is making its voice heard on this pressing issue.

Photo above is of the People's Forest (Bosque del Pueblo) in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico by “Oquendo” on flickr.

3 comments

  • […] In the island of Puerto Rico if a person had to cut down a tree he/she had to request permission form the island’s Department of Natural Resources – that was until recently, when the Secretary of the Agency, Javier Velez Arocho, issued an administrative order that automatically grants a “fast track” permission to anyone who wishes to cut a tree. The order, which grants permission to cut up to ten trees, is automatically granted to anyone who hands in a photograph of the tree/s in question. Prior to this administrative order, any potential tree-cutter had to justify the reason for so doing and a technician from the agency would visit the site to determine that: a) the tree was not a protected species, and b) the reasons given by the person requesting the permission were sound. Blogger Ivonne Acosta from Sin Mordazas was the first to raise the voice of alarm, summarizing the administrative order in this post: “Look at what this permission from Vélez Arocho includes: 1) the person who wishes to cut the trees can obtain the permit the same day; 2) the intention is to speed up the procedure (to cut trees faster); 3) it applies to all municipalities except Ponce and Carolina which issue permissions locally; 4) the administrative order is of immediate application and there will be an evaluating technician the evaluating technician will sign the authorization the same day if the documents provide sufficient information; 5) this “sufficient information” does not include the personal examination by the Department of Natural Resources it is sufficient for the person requesting the authorization to present two photos of each tree; 6) the petitioner has to present evidence that he/she owns the land on which the trees stand (or a permit granted by the municipality if the land is a property of the town or of the state) ” http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/12/23/license-to-kill-trees-granted-by-puerto-ricos-department-of… […]

  • Where is my comment? Just because I have the only serious consistent blog on these subjects
    and kick butt, set trends I am left out?

    Just because I am not looking to jump in bandwagons and protagonist roles? You can all take a long walk on a short deck.
    And pardon my bluntness, you deserve it.

  • Now what? Bring the signatures to the
    EXECUTIONER? The secretary of 007RN?
    Then what ? Collect some more when new
    criminal ecoenvironmental acts take place?

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