LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources continues to appeal to the communities in the mountainous areas in the province to put a stop to burning forest lands.
Benguet Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Carlos Arida said that the practice of upland farming or the conversion of forest lands to agricultural lands using the traditional “kaingin” system or thru uncontrolled fire has become a problem in the different parts of the province with the start of the year.
Arida said that based on the reports of the Bureau of Fire Protection, several incidents of uncontrolled fires have been recorded in the different forested areas and even in tourist destination mountains in the province. Most were due to kaingin burning or farm clearing using fire.
Among the fire incidents reported over the past weeks were the burning of the grassland and vegetation at Mount Pulag particularly at the Akiki Trail in Kabayan, Benguet on January 31 to February 6 . This incident damaged more than four hectares of still rehabilitating vegetation from a fire incident in 2017 caused by irresponsible trekkers.
On February 2, fire damaged a two-hectare area in Mount Yangbew in La Trinidad. Senior Fire Inspector Francisco Copes said the bush fire originated at the lower portion of the mountain inside a private farm that spread upwards.
In Barangay Ampusongan in Bakun town, a fire that affected around four hectares was also reported on Feb. 5.
Last February 21, a fire incident in the forest land owned by the Philex Mining Corporation in Sitio Sal-angan in Ampucao, Itogon damaged more than six hectares and caused the death of five individuals. Also burned down was the storage area of the Forestry Department of the mine company.
The BFP-CAR is looking at kaingin or farm clearing at the lower portion of the mountain area as the cause of the fire.
“Panawagan sa lahat na kung maaari ay iwasan natin ang pagsusunog sa mga kabundukan, dahil nagkakaroon ito ng malaking epekto sa climate change sa pamamgitan ng direct emission ng carbon dioxide sa ating environment,” Arida said.
He informed that DENR will be monitoring the damaged areas due to forest fires to look into the conditions and see how these could be rehabilitated. He added that that the DENR with the PENRO and the Community ENROs will be intensifying the information education and communication campaign particularly targeting the upland farmers in efforts to save the remaining forests. (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)