MULTIMEDIA

Saving Arroceros Park: Isko plans to expand Manila's green 'Ledgi'

Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 03 2019 08:12 AM | Updated as of Aug 08 2019 01:19 PM

Passengers of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) are treated with the green scenery of the Arroceros Forest Park while crossing the Central Station to Carriedo in Manila. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

Pedestrians cross the busy Natividad Lopez and Antonio Villegas streets in Manila. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

The entrance of the Arroceros Forest Park in Manila. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

The Department of Education Manila Division garden inside the Arroceros Forest Park. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

The Arroceros Park is home to more than 1,500 trees, according to the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society, Inc.. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

Mr. Tony Magno, volunteer from Winner Foundation, cleans part of the 2.2-hectare Arroceros Forest Park. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

The Arroceros Park is home to more than 1,500 trees according to the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society, Inc.. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

Arroceros Forest Park’s foliage provides a respite from extreme heat. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

A zebra dove spotted inside the Arroceros Forest Park. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

A crow spotted inside the Arroceros Forest Park. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

The Arroceros Forest Park provides shade for those waiting outside DepEd Manila’s office. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

A tree stump fungus inside the Arroceros Forest Park. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

Trees at the Arroceros Forest Park are good filters from second-hand smoke. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

The Arroceros Forest Park is a good location for school projects. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

The Arroceros Forest Park caretaker Tony Magno attends to the stray cats he adopted. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

Arroceros Forest Park caretaker Tony Magno spends his rest time reading his favorite books. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

The Arroceros Forest Park provides a venue to learn more about trees and photography. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

The Arroceros Forest Park esplanade adjacent to Pasig River. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

The Arroceros Forest Park as seen from the Quezon Bridge in Manila. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

A view of the busy Quezon Bridge in Manila as seen from the Arroceros Forest Park. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

A view of the Arroceros Forest Park as seen from the Quezon Bridge in Manila. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

In highly urbanized cities like Manila, a walk in the park is a welcome respite from exposure to harmful air pollutants and noise.

Mayor Isko Moreno's recent statements on the development of green spaces around Manila was met with enthusiasm by different environmental organizations who have been pushing for the preservation of the 2.2-hectare Arroceros Forest Park.

It was in mid-2018 when environmental groups under the Save Arroceros Park movement raised concern over the previous administration’s plan to build a gymnasium for Universidad De Manila (UDM). The project, which would have involved cutting of trees inside the forest park, was strongly opposed by Winner Foundation, the park’s caretaker for more than 2 decades. The environmentalists stressed the importance of the forest park, dubbed as “The Last Lung in Manila,” in mitigating air pollution and acting as a carbon sink for the city.

Moreno's plan includes the expansion of the forest park as part of Manila’s Five Parks Pedestrian Corridor Masterplan linking Manila City Hall, Arroceros Park and Liwasang Bonifacio to make the area pedestrian friendly. The plan includes the development of an esplanade, extending from Intramuros to Ayala bridge, to help make a green, safe and walkable city.

Environmental groups welcomed Moreno's plan for Arroceros Park. It is an accessible venue to strengthen environmental education and nature appreciation in Metro Manila.

Mr. Tony Magno, who has been living inside the forest park for almost 12 years, supports the conservation of the park, both for its environmental and historical value. The park, which hosts more than 1,500 tree species, could be developed as a nature laboratory for the young so they can learn about biodiversity. The place has been a venue for nature appreciation and environmental education among students in Manila.

Urban green spaces also encourage physical activity, relaxation, and act as a buffer from urban noise. The World Health Organization, in a report, highlighted the importance of urban green spaces in minimizing health risks from air pollution, traffic injury, physical inactivity, while mitigating climate change.