Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Editorial by Ernesto T. Solidum

Strict Enforcement Of Conservation Laws In Forest Area
“DENR Program and Initiatives” is the topic of Kapihan on August 1, 2015 at NVC Carmen Hotel.  The lone guest is Ms. Marlene Aborka, OIC CENRO Aklan.

Ms. Aborka said that DENR Aklan by virtue of a Memorandum Order issued in January 2015 has dissolved the CENRO  District in Yapak, Malay. The whole organizational force was transferred to Kalibo headed by PENRO Chief Ivene Reyes.

Presently, the Office is nearing target completion of the 5 year National Greening Program (NGP) which started in 2011. NGP aims to plant 1.5 billion indigenous forest trees on 1.5 million hectares of denuded, idle public lands. It seeks to reduce poverty, promote food security, biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The other important concern is land titling and cadastral survey under our Land Management Services. Under RA 9176, An Act Extending the Free Patent Law until December 31, 2020, land owners are encouraged to apply for administrative legalization or confirmation of their imperfect title over alienable and disposable agricultural and residential lands. While there is payment for cadastral survey and up to date payment of taxes by the applicant, processing fee including registration with Land Registration Authority is free. Ms. Aborka announced that on August 7, 2015 (Friday) we will have mass handing of 1, 256 titles to beneficiaries at ABL Sports Complex, Kalibo, Aklan.

DENR has targeted 724 hectares to be planted in 2015. As of June 29, 2015 it has accomplished 104 percent. This is located in towns of Libacao, Madalag, Malinao, Tangalan, Ibajay and Nabas. The survival rate of forest seedlings is assessed at 90-95 per cent. The danger of bush fires has been checked, thanks to the cooperation of PO’s, Barangay officials and other volunteer groups.

Healthy and flourishing stand of  young NGP plantations are located in Aparicio (Ibajay) New Buswang (Kalibo), Oyang (Libacao), Cabugao (Batan), Tag-osip (Buruanga), Rosal (Libacao), Bulwang (Numancia) and Camaligan (Batan).

The Annual Target of NGP funded by millions of pesos is 300,000 hectares. However, the total deforestation per year by illegal loggers and firewood gatherers is 210,000 hectares (UN-FAO). If we take into consideration the 8 million hectares denuded, idle and unproductive lands, it will take 88 years to replant the environmental blight assuming that NGP is still operational or similar programs continued.

DENR Sec. Ramon Paje has proposed the conversion of idle, unproductive public lands into palm oil plantations. He said that the country is losing P800 billion each year in production opportunities. In comparison, Indonesia with 6 million hectares of oil palm makes $50 billion each year. This huge revenue is comparable to our national budget.

It appears than DENR Aklan has accomplished in target area to plant trees at mid-year. But this is because the 724 hectares is too small an area. It should be noted that target for 2016 is 3, 211 hectares. Hence, the Agency may be forced to work overtime starting the second half of this year.

Our Philippine Carbon Dioxide Emission is steadily increasing at 90.79 million tons per year. A research study shows that mangroves can sequester 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide/ha/year. The value of mangrove in the Philippines has been estimated to be $600 per hectare or about P26, 400. Presently, there are 138,000 hectares of mangrove plantations in the country said Dr. Rafael D. Guerrero II, noted Fishery Biologist.

Aklan has two protected areas namely: Aklan Forest Reservation Area and Northwest Panay Peninsula covering 77, 109.68 hectares or 42.0 per cent of total land area. Granting that we have an elite force of 300 forest guards, and forest intelligence officers to protect and arrest illegal loggers and wood cutters, there is no guarantee that our national patrimony is safeguarded.

The most practical against crafty criminal elements is to employ high tech gadgets like drones or unmanned aircraft vehicles being used by private companies. Powered by batteries they can make reconnaissance flights hovering above trees without being detected. CAAP regulates the operation of drones. However, this can be facilitated through negotiations citing law enforcement purposes and operation far from urban areas and navigational air lanes.

Encroachment into forest reserves by unscrupulous land owners are commonly observed. Lands falling beyond 18 percent slope like those seen in Boracay are deemed forest lands. This must be properly delineated during the cadastral survey for land titling. There must be integrity and consistency in our legal documents. /MP

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