Thursday, November 04, 2010

Loggers cut trees in Tabunan forest

Loggers cut trees in Tabunan forest
By Candeze R. Mongaya
Cebu Daily News
October 30, 2010

Proof of illegal logging was discovered the other day in the Tabunan pocket forest in Cebu City, part of a reforestation area.

Nicitas Bores, 52, a caretaker, found two native trees of lawaan and nato cut down during a roving inspection.

Both trees were premium hardwood species valued as lumber with a commercial value of over P16,000. A third tree was damaged, apparently from the impact of the fall of the two trees.

Bores, who works for the Kantipla Ecosystem Enhancement Program (Keep) Foundation, made the discovery during his weekly check of the reforestation area in sitio Kantipla, a popular site for treeplanting by volunteers in Cebu City.

Barangay Tabunan, a government timberland area, is part of the 49,000-hectare Central Cebu Protected Landscape – a source of Metro Cebu’s water supply.

Ariel Rica, CCPL supervisor of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said that a chainsaw with a silencer was probably used to cut the trees so that the logging wasn't noticed by residents a kilometer away.

The two cut trees were large enough for two adults to encircle the trunk with their arms. The three trees measured 5,612 board feet.

Bores said he suspected that the trees were cut Tuesday night.

“We don’t know who did this,” Bores told CEBU DAILY NEWS.

Ma. Flordeliza Rosales, a forester of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), said that some local farmers are converting part of the forest into farmland and that newly planted tree seedlings were sometimes ruined.

“Once, I saw them bring in students who tilled the lot with them. The trees we planted were damaged and had no chance of surviving.”

Members of the Farmers Development Center (Fardec) through Estrella Catarata, executive director denied any involvment in logging.

“We want to preserve and protect our forest. But we should also respect the rights of the farmer to till,” she said.

Catarata said workers of Keep Foundation want 75 farmers residing in the area to leave.

Keep Foundation chaired by retired general Tiburcio Fusilero is tasked to reforest and maintain 503 hectares in barangay Tabunan and surrounding areas but friction with some residents has led to confrotations in recent years.

Keep Foundation signed a memorandum of agreement with the DENR in 2001 to maintain the area.