Measure cuts time for new forest land
The House of Representatives has passed a bill shortening the period of time before an abandoned fishpond could revert to being categorized as forest land.
House Bill No. 5845, authored by Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica, amends the Forestry Code or Presidential Decree 705.
Under the measure, fishponds that had lain idle for three years may be recategorized as forest land, thus allowing for their use for mangrove propagation or ecological tourism purposes.
The law amends Section 43 of PD 705 which states that reversion to forest land may be allowed after a fishpond has been abandoned for five years.
“Environmental laws must be attuned to the demands of climate change as well as the socioeconomic needs of the increasing number of people living in our communities,” Villarica said in the explanatory note.
The measure substituted for the original House Bill No. 5289 and was endorsed for plenary approval by the natural resources committee chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco Matugas.
Villarica said fishponds reclassified as forest land “could be utilized for mangrove propagation or ecotourism activities to kick-start the economy in communities wanting in socioeconomic development.”
Under PD 705, strips of mangrove forests bordering numerous islands—which protect the shoreline, shoreline roads and coastal communities from the destructive force of the sea during high winds and typhoons—shall be maintained and shall not be alienated.
Such strips must be kept free of artificial obstructions so floodwaters could flow unimpeded to the sea and avoid flooding cultivated areas upstream.
Under the new law, all mangrove swamps set aside for coast-protection purposes “shall not be subject to clear-cutting operations.” DJ Yap
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