Philippines — A total of 145,000 tree seedlings costing some P1.3 million were damaged by forest fires during the past three months.
Provincial Natural Resources Office officer Manny Pogeyed said forest fires damaged 73,000 gemelina and assorted trees in 203 hectares of national greening areas in the barangays Anonat, Butigue and Buringal in Paracelis, equivalent to a half million pesos. Forest fires were traced to irresponsible burning of farm debris.
In the western part of the Province, 76 hectares of national greening areas planted with yemane, anchuna, ipil, pine trees and fruit trees including avocado and bananas and and 44 hectares in non greening areas were burned the past three months in Besao, Tadian, Bauko, Sabangan, and Bontoc. The burning was traced to burning of farm debris, to children playing with match sticks to unknown causes.
Some 71,414 seedlings including saplings planted in 110 hectares costing some P800,000 were noted in Tamboan, Besao; Dakudak and Tue, Tadian; Mabaay, Bansa and Monamon Sur,Bauko; Talubin and Caluttit, BOntoc; Namatek and Malaslasa, Sabangan.
Forest fires were noted January 24 until March 21. Rains were hard to come by with showers recorded on March 25. No rains were registered for 65 days since January 19.
There is already a high level of danger period where moisture already reached a critical level in and on the ground level. No moisture of 10 cm below the ground is already an indication that the available fuel for fire to start is very dangerous, Pogeyed said.
Construction of fire breaks is important and so with the enactment of barangay ordinances in preventing forest fires, he added.
Pogeyed advised barangays to enact laws to prevent forest fires and to take note of the danger period marked by continuous absence of rain noticeable with the remarkable decrease of moisture in and on the surface of the soil and to prevent activities like picnics inside the forested areas.
It is not advisable for cattle owners to burn the forest just to grow new grass for the cattle to feed on as yearly burning kills the roots of vegetation, he added.
Though some practices in the African nations practice pastureland burning after four to five year interval, he noted.
Pogeyed also suggested for burning of farm debris to be done at dawn as early as 4 a.m. where there is still moisture. Heat is already high from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the afternoon making forests highly vulnerable to fires.