Philippines — With the onset of summer and March as Fire Prevention Month, the Benguet Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) calls on the public to take an active role in forest fire prevention and forest protection.
Leandro L. De Jesus, OIC PENRO, said in a letter that with the limited resources of the government, it cannot do the protection of our forest alone, adding that citizens as stakeholders and beneficiaries have responsibility on environmental concern. The mass media, likewise, have the role and capability of reaching out to communities for this cause.
The PENRO listed effects of forest fire and its destructions, which include: loss of forest and minor forest products; loss of lives and properties; loss of water in rivers especially during summer; global warming and climate change; loss of aesthetic value for tourism; soil erosion, landslides, and loss of soil fertility; floods or flash floods; siltation of river system; destruction of habitat and loss of wildlife; and loss of biodiversity or variety of life on earth that sustains lives.
Likewise, PENRO cited benefits of forest fire prevention such as preservation or conservation of forest and forest product, continuous flow of water from watersheds, stabilized soil, reduction of air pollution, cooler temperature, and a better environment.
The public is called on to prevent fires and prepare themselves for fires by taking the following measures: not starting or creating fires within or near forests, urging other people to prevent forest fire, containing fire during farm burning or waste burning, ensuring that cigarette butts they dispose are properly put-off, organizing or creating firefighting crews, constructing fuel breaks, establishing firebreak or greenbelt through planting of fire resistance plants, and detecting forest fire.
Furthermore, the public is advised on how to suppress forest fire: direct attack through water, swatter, branches, or soil; fireline construction, backfiring, and mopping.
Forest destruction through setting of fire is punishable under Section 78 of Presidential Decree 705 Revising Presidential Decree NO. 389, otherwise known as The Forestry Reform Code Of The Philippines.
Ultimately, said De Jesus, all of us are affected by the condition of our environment.