Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blaze consumes trees in reforestation site, damages part of watershed

Blaze consumes trees in reforestation site, damages part of watershed
By Bernadette A. Parco
Sun.Star Cebu
April 18, 2012

ABOUT 3,000 trees were eaten by a bush fire at a reforestation project of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) in the mountain barangay of Toong, Cebu City last Friday.

According to a PBSP field survey, the fire—which occurred at noon as residents reported—damaged a 4.8-hectare reforestation site. Of the affected area, three hectares were planted in 2008 while the rest were planted last year.

Since the fire, which was put out after two hours, damaged part of the Buhisan Watershed Forest Reserve, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is closely monitoring the area.

Buhisan watershed is part of the nearly 29,000-hectare Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL).

“What happened in the area was an isolated case,” said Malu Largo, program coordinator of the PBSP-Visayas Regional Operations. She added that the dried leaves of the teak trees may have caught fire during the heat.

The trees eaten by the fire were part of the reforestation project of the Visayan Electric Co. (Veco) and PBSP. Only about 991 trees were left unharmed.

PBSP’s programs are funded by its corporate members, like Veco.

Largo assured that PBSP reforestation sites have a high survival rate of more than 95 percent.

She said that since watershed management and reforestation are priority projects of the PBSP, the group will reforest the area.

But she said reforesting denuded mountains and degraded watersheds should be the concern of the government and the community.

But Ma. Alma Ferolyn, Barangay Toong treasurer, admitted that the residents were not really concerned about the bush fire as it happened some distance away from their houses.

She said residents are used to bush fires in summer. Besides, she added, the barangay does not have a disaster preparedness program.

CCPL superintendent Le-bert Omac said a DENR team inspected the 800 square meters inside Buhisan watershed, a source of water in Metro Cebu, that was damaged by fire.

The DENR is yet to determine if the fire was deliberate. But it said in a statement that “the intense heat with the presence of many large dried leaves of teak tree species may have contributed the fire.”(CNU Comm Intern Zarah Joi J. Ancajas)