BAGUIO CITY – Small clearings in mossy forests in the different parts of the region are indications of the start of massive forest denudations and expansion of commercial vegetable gardens into the remaining watersheds which pose a serious threat to the state of the environment in the Cordillera, an environment official said here.
Engr. Paquito Moreno, regional executive director of the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR), said small openings in the mossy forests purposely for bird catching locally known as ‘ikik’ is just a ploy of unscrupulous individuals to invade undisturbed portions of the watershed and in turn convert such areas in vegetable plantation sites while cutting all the century-old trees.
Aside from bird catching, enterprising farmers cut down oak trees and covert the same into charcoal as okay trees produce high quality charcoal while trying to cultivate the areas where the trees were cut for the initial vegetables that they intend to grow.
“Even with the absence of roads, vegetable farmers still plant their crops in the mossy forest because of the fertile soil which they could avail of the benefits for at least five years,” Moreno stressed.
Moreno said the vigilance of the public on such kind of activities of enterprising individuals within the region’s forested areas is necessary so that they will immediately report illegal activities to law enforcers, barangay and local officials and officials of concerned government agencies in order to abate the serious damage to be inflicted to the remaining forest cover of the region.
The DENR-CAR official said enterprising farmers can tolerate the difficulty of having no access roads to their prospective commercial vegetable garden sites in the mossy forests because they earn substantial income from the charcoal produced from the cut oak trees and the quality of the vegetables that they produce.
According to him, the cooperation of the public is important in preventing further destructions to the state of undisturbed forests in the different parts of the region so that such activities could be stopped the soonest before it will be too late when the damage to the forest shall have been severe and most of the trees were already cut for commercial vegetable gardens.
Moreno said the identified critical watersheds in the region are located in Mount Pulag in Benguet, Mount Data in Mountain Province among other similarly situated watersheds in Ifugao, Kalinga and Abra.
He called on barangay officials, especially those within watershed areas, to closely work with law enforcers and officials of concerned government agencies so that they are able to strictly monitor the activities of people in the forests and to prevent them from inflicting further damage to the region’s state of the environment.
Moreno underscored preserving and protecting the current state of the environment and contributing to further increase the forested areas through nurturing assorted tree species are the contribution of the present generation to the future generation of Cordillerans that is why it is high time for all concerned stakeholders to work together to spare the forests from further damages.