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Environment dep’t surveying Mindanao forests

Vol. XXII, No. 180 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Thursday, April 16, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Protection, sustainable use are main objectives

KORONADAL CITY — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has embarked on a survey to delineate forest lands in Central Mindanao to preserve whatever is left of the areas, officials confirmed yesterday.

Muripaga T. Umpar, DENR-Central Mindanao regional technical director, said forest surveyors from the agency have targeted to complete the survey and assessment of 2,003 kilometers of forest land boundary by the end of the year.

"At least seven regional assessment and delineation teams [RADT] have been deployed in the four provinces of the region to conduct the survey," he said, noting the activity is one of the key priority thrusts of the Environment department for 2009.

Central Mindanao, where several commercial logging firms used to operate, straddles South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato.

Mr. Umpar explained the survey seeks to ensure the protection and sustainable development of forest lands, natural parks and agricultural lands.

Last month, the regional Environment office conducted a workshop and capability building on forest land boundary assessment and delineation in this city.

Calil A. Bantuas, DENR-Central Mindanao RADT coordinator, said the training hopes to provide knowledge to field implementers on the technical and administrative mechanisms for their guidance and compliance.

Raquil-Ali M. Lucman, Environment regional executive director, also said the program on forest land boundary assessment and delineation in the region will be fully implemented this year even as he lamented the state of the forests in the jurisdiction.

"We need to stop once and for all the continued encroachment of our forest lands. For years, our forest line had been continuously receding, thus resulting in ecological imbalance and loss of biodiversity," Mr. Lucman said.

"The project will determine the final forest line through survey with concrete markers [locally called mojon] established on the ground. Additionally, the teams will also assess the best land use of the areas that will be traversed by the survey so that Congress can make the necessary legislation," he added.

Mayolo Z. Villame, RADT team leader, said the survey of 590 kilometers and 111 kilometers of forest land boundary in Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato, respectively, have been already completed.

"These two stretches of forest line are scheduled for assessment this year by the RADTs who are now doing computation and map drawing. After the assessment, the teams will also prepare the draft bills should there be areas that will be recommended for classification by Congress to other land uses," Mr. Villame said.

It was learned that the remaining targets are 796 kilometers for South Cotabato and 506 kilometers for Sarangani.

Mr. Lucman said the Environment department is conducting a massive campaign nationwide regarding the objectives, importance and benefits to be derived from the implementation of the forest land boundary assessment and delineation. — Romer S. Sarmiento


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