LGUs told: Watch out for forest fires
Kristine B. Quintas/ATO (The Freeman) - November 4, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is warning local government units and the public on the possible occurrence of forest fires with the intensified El Niño phenomenon.

The agency has identified vulnerable areas to forest and grassland fires, such as the towns of Argao and Oslob in Cebu, Kalibon in Bohol, and Ayungon in Negros Oriental.

 Forester Ariel Rica, chief enforcement division of DENR, said they hired forest rangers and supervisors who can automatically respond to such incident. 

 In Cebu City alone, more than 20 forest rangers were hired. This will be funded by the National Greening Program of DENR. 

 Aside from that, Rica said they initiated soft approaches like conducting massive information education campaign and distributing IEC materials.

 He added that fire lines and towers have also been established along forest land and other plantations in all NGP sites in Central Visayas.

 “With these we can immediately respond to and mitigate forest fires and other related phenomenon,” he said.

 The weather bureau said the country is in for drier weather and that less rainfall is imminent, possibly starting by the last quarter of the year until first quarter of next year.

 Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration-Mactan Chief Meteorologist Al Quiblat said Cebu’s rainfall forecast is below normal from August to the remaining months of 2015.

 He said their data shows that 80 percent of the country has received below or way below normal rainfall since May.

 PAGASA Visayas Director Oscar Tabada earlier said an unusual number of tropical cyclones is expected this year, adding that because of El Niño, the behavior of tropical cyclones may become “erratic, affecting its track and intensity.”

 The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s  Climate Prediction Center had said that this year’s El Niño can possibly be as strong as the worst ever El Niño recorded in the year 1950.

 Majority of international El-Niño Southern Oscillation climate models also suggest that tropical Pacific temperatures are likely to continue warming and possibly reach strong El Niño levels.

 El Niño is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical area of the Pacific, it having important consequences for weather and climate around the globe. The phenomenon occurs every two to seven years in varying intensity, and the waters of the eastern Pacific can be up to four degrees Celsius (seven degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than usual. —(FREEMAN)

ACIRC ARGAO AND OSLOB ATILDE CEBU CENTRAL VISAYAS CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES EL NI FORESTER ARIEL RICA GEOPHYSICAL AND ASTRONOMICAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION-MACTAN CHIEF METEOROLOGIST AL QUIBLAT NBSP
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