The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has approved the proposal to upgrade the present Section for Forest Protection within the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) to a full Division. The new Division will be designated Forest Protection and Rehabilitation Division, and will be established during 1996. Previously, forest protection in the Philippines has primarily been dealing with problems related to illegal wood harvesting.
Fire reporting: The basic fire problem in many tropical countries is to be able to distinguish between agricultural fires, slash and burn fires and wildfires inside the forest. In the Philippines traditionally very few if any agricultural or shifting cultivation (kaingin) fires have been reported. The reported fires have been related to man-made or plantation forest; in the Philippines some of the plantation species grown are local or indigenous species like Bagras (Eucalyptus deglupta).
The Forestry Master Plan of the Philippines estimates that 9 million people are living in the uplands, i.e. within the remaining forests of the country. These 2 million families are burning from 0.5 to 1.0 hectare of forest and bushland/cogon (alang-alang: Imperata cylindrica) land every year for their subsistence.
A newly launched program: A new program called the “Oplan Sagip Gubat” or Oplan Save the Forest, has been striving very hard to persuade the field personnel of DENR, namely the PENRO’s (Provincial) and CENRO’s (Community) to provide data from burned areas of non-plantation forests as well as from “Alienable and Disposable” (A&D) lands.
Only realistic fire data will in the long run attract sufficient attention from politicians to support and to enforce forest fire prevention, detection and suppression programmes country-wide.
Conclusions: The DENR aims at the strengthening of the existing Multi-Sectoral Forest Protection Committees (MFPC). The Government Organization (GO) and Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) sectors represent the network of members in the MFPC which consists of DENR, Department of National Defence (DND), police, church, youth, education, environmental groups, Local Government Units (LGU’s), People’s Organizations (PO’s) and the Air Transport Office (ATO).
The FMB will then collect and evaluate the acquired fire data and prepare annual fire statistics for the decision makers and international institutions collecting global fire datasets (e.g. GVFI).
From: Mike Jurvélius and Demetrio L. Bartolazo Address: Suonotkontie 3.G.85. FIN-00630, Helsinki, Finland.
Fax: ++358-0-7544250 Phone: ++358-0-745187 Forest Management Bureau (FMB) Visayas Avenue, Diliman Quezon City, The Philippines