A LOGGING company operating in Gingoog City has committed several violations under the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA), initial findings from an ongoing Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) investigation showed.
SP member Benedict Lagbas, chairman of environment committee, said the Southwood Timber Corporation (STC) has been remiss in meeting several conditions stated on its IFMA.
IFMA—a precursor of the Timber License Agreement (TLA)—allows STC to operate on a selective logging system, harvesting only the mature and over-mature naturally growing trees in it residual forest concession.
Capitol officials, however, accused the company of violating the terms of the agreement.
One of these is STC’s failure to plant the 23,500 falcata seedlings despite being plantable. Lagbas’ committee said this was discovered at the company’s nursery.
The seedlings should have been planted early this month until February to replace the older ones that have been cut down, said Vice Governor Norris, who attended Monday’s committee hearing.
The vice governor pointed out that under IFMA, STC is required to replant some 50,000 seedlings within the 60 hectares of its total concession area.
“But until now STC has not been able to plant the 23,500 falcata seedlings. That means the replanted areas cover less than to 50 percent of what is required,” Babiera told Sun.Star Cagayan.
Another violation is the failure of the company to hire more foresters to sufficiently cover the 11,476 hectares under its concession area, the vice governor said.
He said that STC only has one forested for an area stretching from Gingoog City to its neighboring Claveria town.
“I’m not quite sure that as to the number of foresters required by IFMA, but a single forester handling 11,476 hectares of forest is surely not realistic,” the vice governor added.
This and other questions hounding STC’s IFMA will be taken up as the environment committee continues its probe next Monday, Babiera said.
While the company has provided hundreds of residents with jobs and additional revenues to Gingoog, the Capitol official said the overriding concern at the moment is the “protection of the environment.”
STC obtained its IFMA in 2008, following the issuance of social acceptability endorsement by the Gingoog City Council on the same year.
However, the legislative body late last month took that favorable endorsement back, following protests from church-based and environment groups.
Over 20,000 residents also signed opposing STC’s continued logging operations.
The company is also accused of illegally cutting trees and employing children to haul logs—instead of using carabaos. The death of an anti-logging crusader in Gingoog City last December 24 has also sparked calls to cancel STC’s IFMA.
STC had earlier insisted no violations were committed in the conditions set forth under IFMA.