Deforestation of Mount Data watershed continues

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BAUKO, Mountain Province – Concerned residents continue to be up in arms against the ongoing massive deforestation of the forested portions of the Mount Data watershed located in the tri-boundaries of the municipality, Tinoc, Ifugao and Buguias, Benguet.

Sources, who opted not to divulge their identities, disclosed that individuals continue to expand their vegetable gardens to the forested areas of the watersheds are now using heavy equipment to clear the areas covered with trees for the expansion of their gardens to the detriment of the efforts of the concerned government agencies and the municipal government to preserve and protect the untouched portions of the reservation.

The sources claimed that the absence of concrete action from the environment department and concerned local police offices on the illegal logging activities of the individuals in the area allowed these environmental criminals to brazenly continue with the illegal cutting of trees and convert the areas as part of their commercial gardens.

Further, the sources also criticized the judicial proceedings against illegal logging in the courts that are taking some time to be resolved thus those charged remain free to continue with their illegal activities and even expanding their commercial gardens in the aforesaid tri-boundaries seriously threatening the state of the Mount Data watershed.

According to them, units of heavy equipment owned by private individuals owning commercial gardens in the tri-boundaries continue to operate day and night and that a significant area in the watershed had already been ravaged compared to the situation several years ago when there were numerous fully grown trees.

The sources asserted that law enforcers and deputized officials and employees of concerned government agencies must confiscate these heavy equipment being used in the clearing activities in the tri-boundaries because the same have no business to be in the place as the area is part of the watershed and there are no public works projects being implemented in the area.

Earlier, concerned sectors in the municipality contemplated on filing a petition with the courts for the issuance of a temporary environment protection order that should be elevated to a permanent environment protection order to prevent the further degradation of the state of the watershed as the same remains to be the remaining pine stand of the central Cordillera.

However, the sources expressed doubt on the ability of the environment department to effectively and efficiently implement laws pertaining to the preservation and protection of the environment because no concrete action has been done by the agency despite the numerous exposes on the aggressive deforestation being done by individuals who own commercial gardens to the untouched portions of the Mount Data watershed that will surely have a significant impact on climate change in the future, especially when the trees in the reservation will be all gone.

The over 5,000-hectare Mount Data watershed straddles the municipalities of Acop, Tublay up to Bontoc, Mountain Province but most of its portions have already been inhabited except for some portions in the municipality that remain untouched but are now being deforested and converted into  commercial vegetable gardens within the tri-boundaries. By HENT

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