Aklan town stops charcoal-making for 5 yearsBy Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
ILOILO CITY—A small town in Aklan has banned charcoal-making for five years in a bid to save its forests and prevent flooding.
The ordinance, passed in May, is expected to be implemented starting next month in Balate town, about 20 kilometers south of the capital town of Kalibo.
Under the ordinance, the manufacture of charcoal from trees is prohibited in all the town’s 10 villages. Only charcoal made from coconut husks would be allowed, said town Councilor Peter Recidoro, chair of the town council’s committee on environment.
Violators face a fine of P2,500 for every five sacks of charcoal found in their possession while the same amount of fine will be imposed on traders for every two sacks confiscated. Drivers of vehicles transporting charcoal will also be fined P2,500 for every three sacks found in their vehicles.
Recidoro said worsening floods in the town prompted officials to pass the ordinance. Balete is a fourth-class municipality with an annual income of less than P5 million and a population of 22,000.
He said the town suffered its worst flood in recent years in November last year even if there was no storm that time. The flood destroyed crops and wrought millions of pesos worth of damage to the coconut industry, the town’s main source of income.
“We believe the flooding was a result of the denudation of our forests. One cause is rampant charcoal-making,” Recidoro said.
Charcoal-making had been allowed in the town but charcoal makers were advised to use only fallen tree branches.
Recidoro said that in recent years, charcoal makers have gone overboard, cutting more and more trees and turning these into charcoal.
Charcoal makers have been told to only use coconut husks or find other sources of livelihood while the ban is in effect.
“It (the ban) is just [for] five years and we must do this to give time to plant trees for our forests to recover,” Recidoro said.