by: Mary Lailani Pitao-Tupaz

NAVAL, Biliran (PIA) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – Biliran Provincial Office urged public to be cautious of their farming practices and other activities in the forest lands to protect the trees planted under the National Greening Program (NGP) and other older trees.

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Berlina Corzon, Senior Ecosystems Management Specialist of DENR-Biliran, during the Kapihan at Pulong-Pulong ng Bayan recently over Radyo Natin-Naval, called on farmers and all who trek around the forestlands of the province to observe safety as they move around the forests to avoid the much dreaded forest fires putting to waste the millions of pesos the government has invested for environmental protection.

Hectares of forest plantation sites in Barangay Pinamihagan, Culaba; and Barangays Tomalistis, Kawayanon, and Caulangohan in Caibiran were reported burned. These plantations were under the NGP which started in 2011.

Cause of possible fire range came from innocent children playing with fire in the area, lash and burn farming method (kaingin), and cigarette butts of passersby.

Corzon said, though replanting and rehabilitation are implemented in the burned plantation sites, the government funds invested for the project and the grown trees which were supposed to have helped mitigate the burning environmental temperature we are currently experiencing, are all put in vain.

Additional budget needs be allocated for the rehabilitation and it will take another years to grow the new trees, she said.

Corzon also reminded public of the impending dry spell that may worsen the situation in the plantation areas.

The weather bureau estimates El Nino to possibly last until June 2016.

Around 3,147 hectares forest and mangrove areas and an additional 427 hectares of mangrove areas is DENR-Biliran’s target areas for plantation under the NGP for 2015.

The National Greening Program is a six-year massive forest rehabilitation program of the government from 2011-2016 by virtue of Executive Order No. 26 issued on Feb. 24, 2011 by President Benigno S. Aquino III. It aims to plant 1.5 billion trees across 1.5 million hectares nationwide. # (fj/PIA8 Biliran)

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