Philippines: Efforts underway to stop illegal logging in the Sierra Madres

The 359,486-hectare Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park in this
province is being threatened by illegal loggers in San Mariano and
Ilagan towns. The mountain fringe of the Northern Sierra Madre Natural
Park has access to the bodies of river that are used by illegal
loggers to float cut logs, William Savella, Palanan community
environment and natural resources officer and concurrent Northern
Sierra Madre Natural Park superintendent, told reporters. Forest
rangers and volunteer environment groups have been helping in
alleviating timber poaching in forest areas, “although they are not
enough to guard the vast natural park,” he added. But only 22 forest
rangers have been deployed at the park, with seven based in Palanan,
four in Maconacon, six in Dinapigue and five others in the western
areas of San Mariano, Ilagan, Cabagan and Tumauini, he said. Bantay
Kalikasan volunteers, mostly Agtas and town residents, have been
augmenting the forest rangers.

Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca assailed the
continuous poaching despite the replacement of the provincial office
head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources officer Felix Taguba was
earlier relieved and was replaced by Alfredo Almueda as officer in
charge. Almueda, however, also failed to minimize illegal- logging
activities in the Isabela forests. As this developed, various logs
seized from poachers in Isabela will be auctioned off by the DENR. The
illegally cut logs include at least 2,059 pieces of assorted hardwood,
such as narra, red lauan and tanguile, measuring 158,618 board feet.
The provincial anti-illegal logging task force seized the logs in the
past months with help from former atcheros (chainsaw operators) and
bugaderos (log transporters). A portion of the proceeds of the sale of
confiscated logs will be spent to fund anti-illegal-logging drive in
Isabela, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza said. Earlier, environment
groups listed endangered and vulnerable the different species of fauna
along the park, apparently owing to alleged unabated illegal logging.
Greenpeace and Diocese of Ilagan Movement for Environmental Protection
biodiversity surveillance reports showed that the natural park has
worldwide recorded threatened and near-threatened species, which
include the endangered Philippine Eagle and the Luzon water redstart
(Rhyacornis). Other endangered species include the white-browed
jungle-flycatcher (Rhinomyias insignis), ashy-breasted flycatcher
(Muscicapa randi), furtive flycatcher (Ficedula disposita), celestial
monarch (Hypothymis coelestis), green-faced parrotfinch (Erythrura
viridifacies) and Baer’s pochard (Athya baeri).
http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3315:illegal-logging-threatens-sierra-madre-flora-fauna&catid=26:nation&Itemid=63

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