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DENR-7: Illegal tree cutting still rampant

CEBU, Philippines - While trees stand a better chance of withstanding the dry season, these natural resources continue to be threatened due to illegal logging and cutting operations.

In fact, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has recorded over a million worth of “illegally” cut forest products in the first quarter of 2015 alone.

 DENR-7 reported a total of 129.2933 cubic meters of confiscated forest products such as timber or charred lumber from January to May this year with an estimated cost of P1,020,350.93. Cubic meter is the standard measurement for lumber used by DENR.

 With this, DENR-7 has alerted all its forest protection task force consisting of forest guards and rangers to regularly inspect unprotected areas in the region.

 “If illegal cutting operations in the region will continue, eventually it will affect our environmental situation and suffer its harmful effects. And we will continue to experience the worsening temperature,” said Dr. Eddie Llamedo, head of Public Affairs Office of the DENR-7.

 Llamedo said the illegal logging hotspots were determined to be in seaport areas and in forest vicinities in some provinces.  In Cebu province, illegal logging hotspots were identified to be in pier areas in Cebu City, Argao town and Mandaue City. This also includes the illegal shipment of lumber pieces in the seaport areas of Talisay City, Bantayan Island and Hagnaya port.

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 Areas of illegal tree-cutting operations were also identified in Bogo City and the towns of San Remigio, Tuburan, Balamban and Asturias.

 As illegal logging activities contribute to the vast changing weather conditions, Llamedo said trees are important in providing shade from heat, as well as drawing in carbon dioxide emissions, one of the chief greenhouse gases.

 Llamedo appealed to the public to avoid cutting trees since these natural resources are essential in cooling the earth’s temperature while trees are also significant in providing climate change mitigation measures.

 Llamedo pointed out that trees also prevent disasters such as landslide and flooding from occurring especially during rainy seasons. He said as trees also provide food, they also add aesthetic value to the surroundings.

 The DENR-7 continues its effort in cracking down illegal tree-cutting operations and prohibiting transport of forest products across Central Visayas.

 DENR-7 Regional Executive Director Dr. Isabelo Montejo had directed the provincial and community environment and natural resources officers to keep a close watch on the movement of illegal forest products and illegal cutting of trees within their respective areas of jurisdiction to attain the zero-illegal logging hotspot aim.

Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO)-Cebu City marked the largest amount of confiscation with a total of 55.35 cubic meters with an equivalent amount of P513,487.

 CENRO-Argao also confiscated 10.0201 cubic meters of lumber, flitch and timber amounting to P209,305.

 Siquijor province, on the other hand, recorded zero confiscation.  DENR-7 has confiscated a total of 344.3139 cubic meters amounting to more than P3.4 million in 2014.

 Llamedo said all confiscated illegal forest products composed mostly of charcoal, lumber, flitch, timber, and log bolts were eventually deposited in the respective CENRO headquarters where it was seized while some of the confiscated forest products without court cases were donated to Department of Education, among other beneficiaries.

Llamedo said those confiscated lumber donated to DepEd-7 could be used for the making of tables, chairs and other furniture pieces necessary for the government-run schools.

 He added that the confiscated lumber could even be used for additional classrooms or facilities set for the senior high school level or for the improvement of older structures in public schools.

 Llamedo noted that anyone caught transporting logs or lumber coming from the residual and natural forests will be strongly dealt with pursuant to Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forest Code of the Philippines and Executive Order (EO) No. 23 which declares a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forest.

 Llamedo noted further that EO No. 23 was issued by President Benigno S. Aquino III on February 1, 2011 to ensure the protection of the remaining forest cover of the country, preserve biodiversity, protect threatened habitats and sanctuaries of endangered and rare species as well as allow natural regeneration of residual forests, among others.

 Montejo also urged all DENR field officers to closely coordinate with the regional and provincial anti-illegal task forces in the conduct of joint enforcement initiatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.  (FREEMAN)

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