January 31, 2023

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) has called for convergence of efforts in the fight and awareness campaign against forest fires down to the community level as fires already destroyed 899.53 hectares in the province.
During the Cordillera Regional and Benguet Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (DRRMC) meeting, Penro Head Edgardo Flor said that from Jan. 12, forest fires were already recorded in eight out of the 12 municipalities in the province.
Estimated damage are pegged at P2.077 million, excluding the future effects of forest fires to the region’s ecology.
Kabayan is mostly hit with around 643.69 hectares of burnt forest including 191.54 hectares of National Greening Program areas and parts of the country’s identified protected forest areas.  
Other forest fire incidents were reported in Tuba, Bakun, Tublay, Bokod, Atok, Kibungan, and La Trinidad.
Flor said that the forest fires were mainly due to foliage preparation for cattle raising, and expansion of mountain farms.
Others were due to negligence of people in the communities and tourists or campers/trekkers.
The absence of rainfall in the past few months that caused the drying of pine trees, grass, and other forest resources in Benguet, coupled with the moderate to strong wind due to the Northeast monsoon are added factors to the province’s problem on forest fires, Flor said.
He said that in partnership with the Bureau of Fire and Protection and other stakeholders, they are doing their best to suppress the fire. However, the mountainous topography of the province including the lack of access roads towards the highly sloped or steeped areas of the fire sites added difficulty during response. – Carlito C. Dar