THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is fast-tracking its geohazard mapping to identify areas susceptible to landslides.

DENR-CAR Director Clarence Baguilat said that as part of their La Niña mitigating projects, the environment agency is now fast-tracking the completion of the geohazard mapping project of the MGB and turn it over to the local government units for their land use projects.

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MGB-CAR chief geologist Faye Apil said there are now only eight towns in Abra and three more in the province of Apayao which are now subject to geohazard mapping by the agency.

She said they are ahead of schedule in completing the project which is slated for completion by December.

“It is only in the boundaries of these provinces where we are currently having problems but after the mapping, we will turn over the findings of our agency to the local government units so that they may use it for their land use plans and disaster risk management programs,” Apil said.

With regard to critical areas identified by the MGB as highly-susceptible to landslides, Baguilat said leaning of trees is already an indicator of landslide prone areas.

“With leaning of trees, there is already a sign of ground or soil movement which eventually, when saturated by water, may cause landslides or create sinkholes,” he said.

He added residents should also remain observant of these ground movements and report it to the MGB for further study as safety of people is also a forefront thrust of their agency.

Moreover, Baguilat said as an annual activity, the agency is also keen on its efforts of reforestation and agroforestry where fruit trees indigenous to a specific place in the region are replanted to provide both protection for the environment and income for the residents in the area.

Emergency warning systems was also advised by the regional director to be set-up in identified areas which are disaster prone, aside from slope protection and engineering measures to prevent further soil erosion that may eventually lead to landslides or flashfloods.

He added, during the culminating program of the month-long environment month celebrations, Baguilat said there will be consultations with local governments in the future to further safeguard the forested areas and watersheds particularly in Baguio.

He also lamented on the accidental razing of 12 hectares of reforested area inside the Busol watershed which for now supplies most of the water utilized in this mountain resort city.

With this, he said consultations with concerned city officials and the Baguio Water District are now in place to further discuss the state of the watershed. – (JM Agreda)