DENR urges public to volunteer for Bicol natural parks conservation
posted 24-Jun-2019  ·  
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LEGAZPI CITY - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Bicol (DENR-5) is urging the public to involve themselves in safeguarding the region’s biodiversity through conservation and protection of natural parks.

“Let us plant trees every now and then, which is beneficial to the planet,” DENR-5 Regional Executive Director Gil A. Aromin, said.

DENR-5 and the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) vowed stricter protection to Catanduanes Natural Park in Catanduanes province and Mt. Isarog Natural Park in Camarines Sur province.

PAMB is the governing body of a protected area composed of different stakeholders who directly and indirectly benefit from the park and its resources.

The forest of Catanduanes is regarded as the “last frontier” of Bicol Region while the Mt. Isarog Natural Park covers watershed areas that serve as one of the main sources of water in Naga City.

DENR-5 said the issues that confront the natural parks include the land boundaries, illegal cutting of trees and quarry operations.

There was also a request for the re-identification of waterfalls in Mt. Isarog Natural Park that can be opened to the public.

To intensify the protection of Natural Park, DENR-5 resolved to reactivate the Mt. Isarog Guardians (MIGs,) who serve as community volunteers.

“Mt. Isarog has wide area coverage and because of this, there is an urgent need to reactivate the MIGs and encourage all barangay captains whose areas of jurisdiction falls near or within the natural park,” Aromin said.

In another vein, the provincial environment and natural resources officer of Catanduanes acknowledged the operations of the Provincial Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force, which helped curb the environmental crimes in the province.

DENR-5 assured the protection and conservation of natural parks through the development and implementation of Manual of Operations for the Protected Areas with the help of PAMB, its stakeholders and the public in general.

The DENR regional office did not specify how volunteers would be recruited in Catanduanes, where the PENRO is woefully understaffed to patrol the entire mountainous park.

In an interview last year, a senior official confirmed to the Tribune that, ideally, one forest ranger guards a maximum of 4,000 hectares of forest. This means the park’s 48,924.09 hectares would need 12 such rangers plus a complement of crew members to be able to patrol such a large area and monitor any violations of forest laws, rules and regulations.

PENRO Virac has only 10 forest rangers and a tree marker, plus one forestry technician and one Supervising Ecosystems Management Specialist. While it has several foresters, all but two are from outside Catanduanes.

According to the source, forest rangers are not graduates of a forestry course but are rather high school or college graduates with some knowledge of tree species identification, scaling and forest patrolling, while the tree marker position is set to be abolished once the current holder retires.

It is claimed that the DENR has yet to approve the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11038, or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018, with the concerned officials failing to discuss the draft on a scheduled meeting last month.

At the local level, the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) was supposed to convene at the Amenia Beach Resort in Palawig, San Andres last May 28, with the DENR regional director making it to the venue. However, the relative distance of the resort, the unavailability of transport and other reasons prevented most PAMB members from attending the quarterly meeting.

It was reset for June 4, with the DENR-5 chief as well as the PENRO away on an official gathering in the mainland.

Instead, the PAMB members present chose San Miguel Mayor Francisco Camano, Jr. to preside over the meeting held at the Queen Maricel Inn function hall.

A PENRO official presented the Catanduanes National Park Management Zones by municipality and the CY 2019 Biodiversity Monitoring System (BMS) project. (with a report by Casandra E. Balala PIA/Albay)

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