DENR warns of infestation by tree pestsBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Aside from illegal loggers, Philippine forests are crawling with a threat of a different kind.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Saturday it had added a “new enemy” for government forest rangers to battle—malevolent forest pests, such as fungi and insects.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje recently ordered forest guards to pay special attention to signs of damage due to insect or fungi infestation.
In a statement, Paje said there should be early warning mechanisms against potential outbreaks of pest infestation in forests if the government wants to continue making gains in the National Greening Program (NGP).
Paje said the NGP’s aim was not only to plant seedlings and saplings on 1.5 million hectares by 2016 but to ensure that these grew into healthy trees.
In issuing DENR Administrative Order 2012-05, Paje directed “every Community Environment and Natural Resources Office with forests under its jurisdiction” to designate a Forest Surveillance and Monitoring Officer (FPSMO).
“The FPSMO shall conduct regular forest inspection activities in his/her area of jurisdiction, and coordinate with the forest tenure holders, private plantation owners, protected area supervisors or indigenous peoples (IP) groups, and local communities,” he said in the order.
The forest pestwatch forms part of regular forest protection activities with or without observed infestation in their areas, Paje said.
The administrative order likewise provides for a set of guidelines to carry out a forest pest response mechanism involving local environment officials.
Under the guidelines, a forest pest assessment team shall be tasked to design a blueprint “to totally eliminate the pest and prevent similar incidence” and to determine the success of control measures through periodic evaluation.