THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will monitor pest infestation in five forest areas in Central Visayas.

These are the reforestation projects in Dagohoy, Bohol; Carmen in northern Cebu and Camp 7 in Minglanilla, southern Cebu; the Bandilaan Forest Reserve, Siquijor; and Talinis in Negros Oriental.

The agency decided on this action after a leaf infestation devastated thousands of trees inside the Buhisan Watershed Forest Reserve.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

The culprit was the gravid moth, or teak skeletonizer (scientific name, Eutectona machaeralis).

In a forum, Chief Science Research Specialist Aguinaldo Bueno Jr. said the infestation subsided after the onset of the rainy season.

He said the agency will continue to observe the area until September, particularly Barangay Toong in Cebu City, before it declares the site clear of pest infestation.

"If the situation in the watershed continues beyond September, then a second infestation can be expected," he said.

Bueno said teak trees inside the watershed are of the India variety. These were introduced to the country during the reforestation project in 1911.

"The foresters at that time chose teak trees because these are fire and drought-resistant. There are always forest fires at the Buhisan watershed," he said.

"(But) if the tree species planted were diversified, the infestation would not have been this massive," he said.

He underscored the need to introduce diverse and indigenous tree species to prevent erosion and to protect Metro Cebu's main sources of groundwater.

"There should be multi-story vegetation, which is proper for a watershed," he said.

Bueno said they also recommend conducting an information drive to remind residents inside the watershed about the ban on bird hunting to prevent future pest infestations.