June 20, 2024

The local government of La Trinidad, Benguet is planning to open the Shilan communal forest to the public as a way to ward off illegal activities in the forest reserve.
Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer Arthur Pedro said his office is in the process of delineating areas which could be open to the public as part of its management plan.
“We need people to become aware that the area is a communal forest so that they will also assist in maintaining our forest,” Pedro said.
He said barangay officials and the community have been protecting the 44-hectare communal forest through the years. However, the portion of the forest at Sitio Jappa recently faced a threat when a private contractor developed 500 square meters of the forest into a parking area for heavy equipment despite the cease and desist order of Mayor Romeo Salda last year.
The contractor is also facing an environmental case filed by the LGU for developing and putting up a house and motorpool within a 1,000-square meter portion of the communal forest.
Without permits from the municipality, the contractor started developing the area in 2019 and built a house in 2020.
Pedro said the contractor maintains that the area he has developed is not part of the communal forest. 
Salda said the municipality is bent on implementing the forest management plan in Shilan, adopting what concerned offices have done at the Puguis communal forest.
The LGU also plans to implement the “adopt a forest program,” which will involve other agencies and groups in the preservation of the forest.
Putting up of agro-forest nurseries where saplings for tree planting activities, series of tree caring activities where various organizations and volunteers will participate, and installation of a watering system in the planting sites is also being planned.
The Menro is also closely monitoring the communal forests in Alno and Alapang. – Ofelia C. Empian