Philippines — The Environment department has reactivated its fire-fighting units nationwide following an increase in forest fire incidents.
Environment Secretary Horacio Ramos ordered the creation of firefighting units down to the village levels as he sought to upgrade his departments fire preparedness plan.
The Departments move came after 73.8 hectares of reforested and agroforestry areas inside the Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape in Cagayan province were destroyed by bushfire.
Executive Director Benjamin Tumaliuan said that the first forest fire incident took place last March 23 at a farm lot owned by Angelito Danguilan, Jr.
Investigators said Danguilan failed to contain the small fire he created to destroy farm wastes. The fire spread to the adjacent Peñablanca Reforestation Project destroying about 52.7 hectares of newly planted trees within the Toyota funded-reforestation project.
The second incident occurred Wednesday last week, that destroyed some 17.1 hectares of reforestation and agro forestry projects and another four hectares of agroforestry area outside the project.
Administrators of the Peñablanca Protected Area filed a criminal case against Danguilan before the regional trial court in Tuguegarao City for violation of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines on unlawful occupation or destruction of forest lands.
Ramos proposed to enhance the agencys response mechanism through the creation of units dedicated to forest fire mitigation at the community level. He also urged communities living within or near forests to participate.