Philippines — The environment department yesterday directed regional officers to mobilize forest rangers and monitor forest fire hot spots.
“With the warning of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration that it is going to be a hotter summer we cannot just allow our gains in reforestation to go up in smoke simply because we are not prepared for it,” the statement quoted Environment Secretary Jose L. Atienza, Jr., as saying.
Forest fires are mainly triggered by spontaneous burning of dried grass due to extreme heat; risky practices related to livelihood activities like charcoal making, gathering of ant eggs and honey using torches to drive away ants and bees; and soil burning by cattle raisers to speed up growth of grasses for grazing.
Included in the forest fire-prone areas are Central Luzon and the Cordillera Administrative Region, which incurred losses of P30.1 million in 9,651 hectares and P56.4 million in 8,269 hectares, respectively, since 2000 due to pine trees and grass lands.
Losses due to forest fires are estimated to run to at least P10 million every year.
Official records show an aggregate area of 31,595 hectares have been lost to forest fires from 2000 to 2008, costing the government P173.2 million.