BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance allocating the vacated forested areas identified under Ordinance No. 63, series of 2016 as the Baguio City bamboo sanctuary and providing for other purposes.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Elaine D. Sembrano stated the local legislative measure shall be applied to all areas identified as vacant forest areas delineated in the city’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan of 2016 and the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of the city.
The local legislative measure added the areas shall be reforested or planted with various kinds of bamboo species as its main vegetation along with other greeneries and the ratio of which shall be at least 50 percent bamboo, 40 percent Baguio pine and 10 percent other tree species.
The City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO) will be tasked to implement the ordinance and for the proper undertaking of activities, a Bamboo Sanctuary Development Plan shall be prepared by the said office.
Further, the CEPMO may coordinate with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Cordillera for technical assistance to guarantee the successful identification of the proposed bamboo sanctuaries in the city.
Under the proposed ordinance, the said plan shall include, among others, the establishment and maintenance of the bamboo plantation as well regulated harvesting and utilization of bamboo products for livelihood purposes.
The ordinance provided no structure shall be constructed within the bamboo sanctuary except for watch towers for forest guards, water impounding facilities, trails or footpaths, while sheds, quarters or any similar structures shall be strictly prohibited in the bamboo sanctuary.
Moreover, illegal structures within the bamboo sanctuary shall be demolished in accordance with Presidential Decree 1096 and other related laws, rules, and regulations.
The ordinance stated all townsite sales applications (TSAs) over the identified forest lands shall be discouraged, however, if there are any applications for ancestral land claim processed and favourably granted pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), the zoning pursuant to Ordinance No. 63, series of 2016 shall remain valid.
The local government, through the CEPMO, shall explore the possibility of a public-private partnership for the sustainable management and protection of the bamboo sanctuary, subject to the approval of the local legislative body.
It will be recalled that a number of local legislations had been previously passed supporting and recognizing the importance of planting bamboo for forest rehabilitation and erosion control purposes, including for local livelihood opportunities.
Bamboo is a fast-growing evergreen perennial plant that has numerous uses and it is a popular material for construction, furniture, bamboo carving, culinary and landscaping, among other uses.
Moreover, bamboo is used to prevent soil mass movement, improve soil condition and is an effective filter for air pollutants.
By Dexter A. See