Forest Fires

the-agora1

Yesterday, Tuesday, I witnessed four (4) forest fires in Danao alone. By now more than 300 hectares of forestland in Bohol may have been wasted by fire thus putting down the drain millions worth of forest plantations under the programs of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). So far the top scorers this year areUbay and Danao where we find abundant grassland also in what should be forest or timber lands.

No.The cause of forest fire this year is not the hot political rivalry of contending political parties and candidates for the coming national and local elections on May 9, 2016. It is fire started intentionally, and not by any other causes as in other countries where lightning can start a fire like in Australia. In the Philippines there is not that much lightning and almost nil during summer.So it would only be from a matchstick or from a lighted cigarette butts just thrown anywhere by irresponsible smokers.

One of the four that I witnessed and helped put off was intentionally done by Lola Lydia in SitioDanaoGamay, Brgy. San Carlos, Danao. Her granddaughters said their lola started the fire to scare away the snakes that may be lurking near the pen of her pig. After starting the fire she let her three granddaughters, ages 8 to 10 to watch the fire.

The dried bambooleaves that abound near the pen served as good wick and the fire started to burn all the leaves on its path until the small girls could not contain it anymore. Fortunately that was when the team of the Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management Project (INREMP) from Manila that the Bohol INREMP staff accompanied, including me, arrived. But by the time we arrived the fire already razed an uninhabited hut and the fire went on to “eat” the coconuts and some mangium and aure trees that were about 10meters tall already.

When I arrived I only saw one local woman with coconut frond on her right hand and a four (4) year old daughter on her left trying to put off the raging fire. Two other ladies, LenlenRacho of the DENR-PENRO Office and Ellen Suarez of CENRO-Talibon helping out. They were the hero firefighters whom I joined after seeing that the men were nowhere to be found. Joseph GerminCapin, the community development officer of INREMP station in Danao delivered the coup de grace to the forest fire but not after some four (4) hectares were burned down.

From Brgy. San Carlos where the INREMP team made survey of the proposed rehabilitation of the San Carlos – DanaoGamay barangay road, we proceeded to Brgy. Concepcion, Danao for the survey of the Brgy. Concepcion-SitioSta Ana also for rehabilitation under the INREMP budget. There another forest fire was raging in adjacent Brgy. Cagawasan, Dagohoy but we could not respond because of the distance. All we could do was call people from CENRO-Talibon who were in-charge of the location. By the time we left the area some 10 hectares were turned to ember.

On our way home before we could leave Sitio Sta. Ana, we again saw another forest fire eating up all the dried leaves and branches of some fully grown trees on a hill about 700 meters away. This time the full force of the INREMP team hurried to respond only to find out that the fire fighters team that the INREMP team trained two weeks ago on fire fighting and prevention were already there.

Finally on theway home, we again saw another forest fire burning everything on its path on the mountainous but classified as Alienable and Disposable (A&D)landin Brgy Concepcion(I couldn’t recall the name of thesitio) just across the national highway from Danao to Carmen.

What I am saying here is that until our people learn and understand that forest fire will never be good for their livestock, there will be no year nor dry season that there will be no forest fire.I am told that pole intentionally burn the grassland that eventually creep to the forest area is because they would like the grass to grow young leaves for their livestock to feed on. In the process, we say goodbye to the trees that we spent millions of pesos to plant and grow.

DENR cannot educate the peoplealone. It will need the active assistance of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) that has supervisory authority over the local government units and the provincial local government to collaborate.

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