THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has renewed its call to protect the more than 500-kilometer Sierra Madre Mountain Range (SMMR) to avert the impact of the world’s rising temperature and fight climate change.
During his recent visit in Aurora province, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu stressed the need to strengthen forest protection in the SMMR, which serves as Luzon’s natural barrier against strong typhoons that reduce wind speeds of potentially destructive storms.
“Prioritize the protection and conservation of Sierra Madre. Saving this mountain range is equivalent to saving the lives of many people from damage and destruction brought by natural calamities,” Cimatu said.
Known as the longest mountain range in the country, SMMR covers a total land area of about 1.6 million hectares that serve as home to the largest remaining tract of old-growth tropical rainforest. Its biological importance goes beyond its intact forest, since it is also considered a megadiverse ecosystem, as it homes hundreds of wildlife species that is endemic in the Philippines.
Paquito Moreno Jr., executive director of DENR in Central Luzon, said forest protection and biodiversity conservation programs have been among the priority programs of Cimatu, and these have been intensified in the provinces of Aurora, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan, where the SMMR traverses.
“The deployment of 130 forest rangers and protection officers in these areas not only augment our patrolling efforts, but also help us guard 15 protected areas and 21 watersheds within the SMMR,” he said, adding that the office likewise strengthened its drive against unregistered chainsaws in support of Cimatu’s marching order of protecting standing trees in the forest areas to save the country’s remaining natural resources.
Moreno reported that the DENR put up eight forest product monitoring stations strategically located in the entry and exit points of major routes of forest products in Pangasinan-Zambales-Bataan-Pampanga-Bulacan-Manila Road, Bataan-Pampanga Road, Manila North Road via Mc Arthur Hiway, Tarlac-Sta. Rosa Road, Quirino-Aurora Road, Cabanatuan-Bongabon Road, Dingalan-Cabanatuan Road, Dingalan-Gen. Nakar Road, and San Miguel and Norzagaray roads in Bulacan.
The DENR also intensified its information, education and communication program on the importance of SMMR’s forests and biodiversity, and launched with the USAid the Protect Wildlife program in 2018 to combat wildlife trafficking.
Moreno appealed to the public to remain vigilant in reporting to the nearest DENR office in their area any destructive activities within the SMMR to prevent unscrupulous groups from conducting illegal logging, poaching and encroachment.
These illegal activities and other environmental violations may be reported through the DENR Region 3 hotline number: 0945-368-5303.
PROTECT SIERRA MADRE. Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu looks at a map showing the 1.6 million hectare Sierra Madre Mountain Range during his visit in Aurora province recently. (DENR)
January 13, 2022
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