Summer not all beach in Palawan; it is the season to burn forests
Palawan Gov. Jose Alvarez, who lent his private plane for the aerial survey, admits that kaingin has become a growing problem in the countryside. He called on all government and nongovernment agencies to “work together” and put in place a comprehensive intervention strategy.
“Enforcing the law alone will not solve it. We need to join efforts to reduce poverty, make livelihood available to the poor farmer and undertake reforestation with the support of all agencies,” Alvarez said.
He proposed the convening of a “forest conservation task force” that will undertake a 10-year plan to arrest the problem of slash-and-burn farming and the resulting environmental destruction.
Less virgin forest
Palawan still boasts of being the only province in the country with a forest cover close to half of its entire land mass.
“We have about 666,338 hectares of forest, or about 46 percent, plus 58,000 hectares of mangroves,” said Alex Marcaida, a spokesperson for the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.
Beijnen said, however, that the actual old growth, or what is called virgin forest, “may be significantly less”. He said the official provincial maps need to be properly validated on the ground.
He also noted that in many places, such as Rizal, the destructive nature of slash-and-burn farming poses a more serious threat to the environment.
“The town of Rizal contains some of the oldest, most diverse forests in Palawan, with high trees measuring up to 6 to 70 meters, by far the tallest trees in the province,” he said.
The Center for Sustainability also noted the widespread destruction of mangrove forests along the Palawan mainland’s coastal areas, where old-growth mangroves are either debarked for the illegal tanbark trade or converted into fishponds.
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