February 1, 2023

As a way of improving the management system at the Puguis communal forest, the local government of La Trinidad, Benguet would soon establish a mini ecological park in the communal forest.

Mayor Romeo Salda said the establishment of the ecological park is in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,which will also secure the area from illegal settlers. 

“The mini eco-park will serve as a recreation area where the people of La Trinidad and residents from nearby localities will feel the beauty of nature,” Salda said.

The Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office is already going around various eco-parks in the locality to adopt ideas to be incorporated in the plan to setup an eco-park.

Salda said the Puguis communal forest is considered critical due to the presence of adverse claimants who have been building illegal structures within.

“With its proximity to the valley floor and to Baguio City and with several access points to the area, it becomes an easy target for land speculators,” he said.

He said illegal activities conducted by some settlers in the area include burning, cutting of trees,and construction of makeshift shanties.

Salda said opening up the communal forest for the community to appreciate would make the community aware of the situation of the forest, urging them to help in its conservation as well.

“Once an eco-park is established and open to the public, visitors entering the area are properly monitored. This is one way to prevent people with self-interest from entering the area,” Salda said.

He said the establishment of the eco-park would also help generate revenue for the municipality as well as source of livelihood for the residents.

The mayor said they are targeting December for the implementation of the planned eco-park in the communal forest.

Last week, the LGU conducted another demolition at the communal forest due to the newly-installed fence supposedly put up by the claimantson Oct. 11 during the onset of heavy rains.

This is the third time this year that the LGU has conducted a demolition in the area. Last June, the LGU demolished six shanties rebuilt by claimants.

On March, authorities also demolished houses, pigsty, animal pens, empty tombs, and shanties, among others. – Ofelia C. Empian