Destruction of Cordillera forests bared

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BUGIAS, Benguet  – Residents of barangays located within the tri-boundaries of Benguet, Ifugao and Mountain Province expressed concern over the rampant conversion of forests to commercial vegetable farms within their places that pose a serious threat to the state of the environment that could cause massive deforestation once such illegal activities will not be addressed by the environment department and law enforcement agencies.

Sources from the different barangays in Buguias, Benguet; Bauko, Mountain Province and Tinoc, Ifugao, who requested anonymity for security reasons, exposed that individuals involved in the massive conversion of forested areas to commercial vegetable farms have been using several units of heavy equipment to unjustly fell the fully-grown trees and level the area where they plant assorted vegetables.

The sources disclosed that the massive forest destruction in the tri-boundaries of Benguet, Ifugao and Mount ain Province had been going on for quite a number of years but it seems the environment department and the law enforcement agencies have not actually done something to prevent the destruction of virgin forests through the cutting of thousands of fully-grown trees supposed to serve as erosion control and sustain the abundant water supply coming from the watershed.

“We are wondering why the environment department is concentrating their efforts to protect the environment of Baguio City when it is also equally important for them to preserve and protect the watersheds in our communities that serve as headwaters of four major river systems providing abundant water to our brothers and sisters in the lowland communities,” the source stressed.

He argued that the thousands of trees that were already sacrificed for the commercial gardens is fare more than the trees that were cut in Baguio city that gained the attention of the national government that is why people are now beginning to doubt on the sincerity of environment officials to preserve and protect the country’s environment because they are not actually looking at the bigger picture of the state of the environment in established protected areas.

According to them, the destruction of the watersheds in their places is now closing in to the still virgin forests and that they fear that within a short period of time, the previously forested mountain of the Cordillera will become barren which will have a negative impact on the supply of water to the different river systems and the unabated occurrence of soil erosions that will pose a threat to the safety of life and limb in both highland and lowland communities.

The source questioned environment officials on what is their take when there were thousands of trees that were cut that paved the way for the establishment of hundreds of hectares of vegetable farms compared to simply a few trees that were sacrificed considering that they pose danger to life and limb or situated in private properties where the owner wants to develop his or her property.

If just for only a few trees that were cut and it will result to the highly publicized grand rehabilitation of Baguio, then there should be greater rehabilitation to be undertaken by the environment department in watersheds around the region..

By HENT
Banner photo by Armando M. Bolislis

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