Illegal logging continues in Agusan watershed despite drive vs tree-cutting
SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur, Philippines – Forest guards found and seized illegally cut logs inside the Mt. Magdiwata watershed here despite an intensified drive to protect the mountain from loggers.
A joint operation led by forest guards of San Francisco Water District (SFWD) intercepted 79 pieces of natural-grown falcatta logs inside the watershed area estimated at 6.8 cubic meters with a commercial value of P50,000.
Elmer Luzon, SFWD general manager, said the confiscated logs were felled near Manag-as Creek, which was just about a few meters from another water spring, which they identified as another major source for potable water that would address the increasing demand of consumers in this progressive town.
“As long as there is encroachment inside the watershed, we spare no one even if those involved are influential persons,” Luzon said.
The SFWD has been in the forefront of efforts to protect the 1,700-hectare Mt. Magdiwata from forest incursions as the mountain, which is just a kilometer from the town poblacion, is the only source of potable water and serves as natural protective shield from disastrous typhoons.
A report by the team composed of the SFWD, police and Community Environment and Natural Resources Office said the logs were felled by residents of Alegria village who were caught trying to transport it with carabaos towards the loading area near the SFWD water reservoir.
“They cut it inside the protected mountain and it is a serious criminal offense considering that Magdiwata was already declared permanent watershed through Presidential Proclamation 282,” Luzon said.
Luzon said the SFWD forest rangers have been closely monitoring all kinds of illegal logging and illegal mining activities that pose a grave threat to the endangered watershed.
“The recent crackdown only shows that we are not singling out persons who already gained notoriety for having been caught several times trying to slip out logs outside the mountain,” he said.
He was referring to a certain Judito Pintado who is facing several criminal charges for his alleged involvement in illegal logging and illegal mining activities inside the watershed.
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