Logging continues in Sierra Madre – DENR
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Poachers and traders have been using hardware stores and construction companies as cover for illegal logging in parts of the Sierra Madre straddling the provinces of Aurora, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan, a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) official said on Wednesday.
The DENR suspects a business group that operates hardware stores has been controlling about 60 percent of the trading of illegally sourced lumber from the Sierra Madre in Aurora, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan, said Paquito Moreno, DENR Central Luzon regional director.
DENR personnel seized 14 cubic meters (6,000 board feet) of hardwood worth P1.2 million from a hardware store on June 29 at Barangay Langla in Jaen town in Nueva Ecija. The store doubles as a wood processing plant.
The raid on the 1-hectare plant, which was conducted by personnel from the DENR, police and the Army’s 7th Infantry Division, yielded yakal, lauan and molave species that were covered by a government ban.
“These species are banned for cutting and obviously they are illegally sourced out from our remaining natural forest in Sierra Madre,” Moreno said in a statement.
The Sierra Madre is considered the longest mountain range in the country, starting from Cagayan province in the north and ending in Quezon province in the south.
It serves as a protective barrier from typhoons coming from the Pacific Ocean. It hosts three national parks and 14 protected areas.
The illicit trade has been going on for the last 10 years, Moreno said.
The registered owner of the plant holding the illegal lumber was not around during the raid. She had not been arrested and held for questioning although the DENR announced that criminal and administrative charges were being prepared against her.
Revised forestry code
The revised forestry code imposes a 10-year prison term on people possessing illegally sourced forest products.
Information obtained by the DENR said the lumber was sourced from Doña Remedios Trinidad town in Bulacan and hauled to General Tinio town in Nueva Ecija from the tributaries of the Sumacbao River.
There are 316 registered lumber dealers in Central Luzon, 12 of which operate in Nueva Ecija. —Tonette Orejas