Forest fires destroy P6M worth of trees-A A +A
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Regreening efforts in Benguet province have turned in to waste as forest fires damaged P6 million worth of trees, saplings and seedlings.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Director Guillermo Fianza said slash and burn farming, burning of pastures; carelessness burning and beehive collections are part of the reasons why 7,990 hectares of reforested land have been deemed wasted in the region.
Fianza said budget constraints as well as a difficulty in getting funding from the DENR main office makes it impossible to get money to spruce up fire protection measures by the agency to protect forests in the Cordilleras.
The DENR faced the Provincial Board on Monday to report the sorry news of losses and the struggle to get funding from their own office.
“The reality is that we keep planting but it [keeps getting] burned,” Board Member Rogelio Leon said.
Seedlings damaged are pegged at 596,591; saplings wasted were counted to reach 1,706,563; while trees that had to be cut number 490.
Leon said rehabilitation efforts have gone to waste because damage has been faster than regreening measures.
Kabayan town has a total damage cost of P5,053,195 followed by Itogon with P1,367,145 and Tuba with P735,232.
The data has been accumulated since 2005 with cases of destruction peaking in 2009 and 2010.
Fianza reported the main office of the DENR has been constantly disapproving budget requests for fire protection as they are thinking that land in the region are tenured, freeing the department of cost for its care.
However Fianza added: "We have very unique cases here in the Cordilleras."
Leon proposed alternative measures for the department to focus on fire prevention and asked Fianza to propose other measures to the main office with the support of the provincial council.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 15, 2010.