Regional Director Ralph Pablo, in presiding the Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CRDRRMC) Task Group on Forest Fire Prevention and El Niño Mitigation meeting in April 5, emphasized the need for a massive campaign against forest fire.
DENR – CAR data shows that from January 1 to April 4 of this year, 124 forest fire incidents were already recorded in the region affecting 1,571 hectares of natural forest; 1,343 hectares of plantation forest and 107 hectares of grasslands. Estimated cost of damages was set at around P23.322 million.
The fire incidents were mostly due to kaingin (slash and burn), illegal grazing of pasture land and gathering of forest resources (such as hunting, bee keeping), among others.
Pablo said of the region’s land area of 1.8 million, 1.5M hectares of this are classified as forest area. At present, the region still has around 43 percent of forest cover intact.
Currently, DENR has around 480 forest rangers or a ratio of one forest ranger patrolling around 3,000 hectares of forest land.
The government alone cannot address the concern on forest fires, or more particularly, the protection and preservation of the region’s vast forest cover without the active participation and cooperation of people and local government units especially in the upland communities, Pablo stressed.
Forest fire that causes damage to life and property can be correlated with the filing of arson, which under the Bureau of Fire Protection Standard Operating Procedure is a criminal case which can be meted with the maximum highest penalty depending on the gravity of the case.
Burning garbage or even dry leaves, which also causes forest fire incidents, is also prohibited under the country’s Clean Air Act, Pablo added.
DENR – CAR is the lead agency of the CRDRRMC Task Group on Forest Fire Prevention and El Niño Mitigation with BFP as the vice chair. (JDP/CCD-PIA CAR)
By Carlito C. Dar