Philippines — With the start of summer season, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now on alert for possible wildfires within the forests of Central Luzon.
More than 2,000 forest and fire protection officers and upland farmers who are active members of peoples organizations are ready to combat the threats of wildfire in vast tracts of dry grasslands in Zambales, Tarlac, Bulacan, and Nueva Ecija said DENR Regional Executive Director Maximo Dichoso.
Forest fire incidents peak in summer when arid conditions become more pronounced. Rainfall during this season is less than 200 mm, down from the regular average of more than 2,300 mm Dichoso added.
Dichoso said that close to 200 hectares of forest plantations and reforestation projects were scorched last year by wildfires that spread from adjacent grasslands.
Amid threats of El Nino, 120 peoples organizations with community-based forest management projects with the DENR race to establish fire and green breaks in some 21,000 hectares of forestlands under their stewardship.
Forest villagers and local governments are better able to deal immediately with fire emergencies. Engaging their services will help us respond quickly when fire breaks out in remote places, Dichoso said.
DENR regularly provides science-based fire management trainings to active members of peoples organizations to enable them to respond quickly to fire alerts.
Forest fire prevention is essential to sustain the gains of the National Greening Program (NGP) so that government investments dont go to waste Dichoso emphasized.
The NGP was created under Executive Order No.26 of President Aquino to pursue sustainable development for poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
It aims to plant 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5 million hectares for a period of six years (2011-2016) in lands of public domain.
These lands include forest lands, mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domains, civil and military reservations and urban areas.