April 13, 2024

BENGUET – A total of 899.53 hectares of natural forest and expanded National Greening Program (E-NGP) areas in the province was destroyed by fires from Jan. 6 to Feb. 18, an official of the Benguet Provincial Environmental and Natural Resources Office said, Wednesday.
During the joint Benguet Provincial and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (DRRMC) meeting in La Trinidad, Penro-Benguet Chief Edgardo Flor said there were 12 fires in eight of the 13 towns – Bakun, Kibungan, Atok, Buguias, Tublay; all in Buguias; and Bokod, La Trinidad and Kabayan.
Under Cenro -Baguio’s jurisdiction, a total of 646.02 hectares were burned.
Kabayan recorded the biggest damage at 452.15 hectares of natural forest and 191.54 hectares of E-NGP area; La Trinidad recorded damage in 1.19 hectares forest land and 1.14 hectares of E-NGP area.
Under Cenro-Buguias, a total of 243.64 hectares of forest and E-NGP area were burned.
The burned forest lands were recorded at Ampusongan Proper (.5 hectares); at the boundary of Sitio Ay-ay and Dacugan also in Ampusongan (.62 hectares); Lubo, Kibungan (.53 hectares); Caliking, Atok (2.53 hectares); Topdac, Atok (71.88 hectares); Sinacbat, Bakun (65 ha); Abatan, Buguias (.58 ha) and at Ambassador, Tublay (95 ha).
There were also seven hectares of E-NGP burned at Sinacbat, Bakun.
Flor said the total damage in the 12 fires reached P2,077,290.
However, he said the 199.68 hectares of E-NGP area which were included in the fire, cost the government much more for the government spent from seedling production to planting and other stages.
Some were planted in 2011 when the NGP started, some in 2013 while others in 2015, he said.
Flor said one reason for the fires is kaingin.
He said the lack of rain for several weeks compounded the situation where Benguet forests are laden with pine trees that make it more vulnerable to fire.
The fire that started on Feb. 11 died down after two days but was reignited due to the natural fuel present in pine trees so it went on to damage 160,000 pine seedlings and saplings on Mt. Pulag. – PNA