Philippines — CEBU CITY — It is more sensible and practical to prevent forest fires than to control them.
This was the statement made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7) after two bush fire incidence occurred within the 630-hectare Buhisan Watershed Forest Reserve (BWFR) in Barangay Toong, Cebu City.
DENR regional executive director Maximo Dichoso issued three aspects to consider in forest or bush fire management– prevention, detection, and suppression.
He indicated several measures to prevent fire occurrence such as intensive and aggressive information, education, and communication.
Dichoso cited the careless and irresponsible activities of people that cause fires such as throwing lighted cigarette butt, a campfire with still live cinder or charcoal, and a pasture land burned to improve live-stock grazing.
In a campaign for forest fire prevention, he said information covers various topics to include origin, prevention, and control of fires, and the peoples participation by organizing and mobilizing the community to serve as volunteer fire brigade (VFG) at a barangay level.
During dry season, Dichoso said grass and other vegetation dry up and become very flammable. He suggested that these dried litter should be collected and removed from the site because they are potential source of fires.
Dichoso encouraged fire lines. These are 10-meter wide vegetation-free strips that are usually established at the borders of the plantation and at given intervals inside the plantation.
Greenbreaks or shelterbelts which are strips of vegetation composed of fire-resistant trees, shrubs, and vines should also be established, he said.
Dichoso explained that mopping up a forest fire that is all burning debris has to be extinguished thoroughly because this is an important component of fire suppression.
He instructed all his field officials to continuously monitor and conduct regular patrol in all protected areas in the region so that DENR is able to prevent the occurrence of forest or bush fires, particularly inside the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL) area.
As much as possible, we want to protect our tree plantation from forest fires as the damage may have been bigger, he added.
The protected landscape covers a consolidated area of 28,312 hectares covering Buhisan Watershed Forest Reserve (BWFR), Mananga Watershed Forest Reserve, Sudlon National Park, Central Cebu National Park ,and the Kotkot-Lusaran Watershed Forest Reserve located in the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Toledo, and Danao, and in the municipalities of Minglanilla, Consolacion, Liloan, Compostela, and Balamban.