Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 27      August 13 - 19, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines








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Baguio City, Cordillera Forest Balding Badly
Only 2 of 6 CAR provinces not bald, environment official says

Pine forests in Baguio City and the rest of the Cordillera mountains have thinned at alarming levels as the environment department here rang a bell to everyone to reclaim its lost grandeur.



BAGUIO CITY – Pine forests in Baguio City and the rest of the Cordillera mountains have thinned at alarming levels as the environment department here rang a bell to everyone to reclaim its lost grandeur.

Baguio City, perhaps the only city in the country clad with pine trees in fact has only 20 percent forest cover, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Executive Director Samuel Peñafiel said here on Aug. 9 during a briefing before the Aug. 25 simultaneous launching of the government’s “Green Philippine Highways” program.

Baguio’s scenic environment and idyllic atmosphere will be completely lost when these forest cover will continue to be diminished by wanton disregard to re-greening it, the DENR official said.

Only the former U.S. rest and recreation facility Camp John Hay and South Drive area have solid forests remaining, Peñafiel said, and the rest are settlements which affect the attractiveness of the city.

In the 1900s, Baguio City, which has only 5,000 has. land area, was designed by American architect Daniel Burnham only for 25,000 residents.

Today, the highland resort city has 300,000 residents. Falling short of the standard of forest cover, Baguio City like the rest of the Cordillera region should even have more forest cover because of the steep slopes and greater amount of precipitation, the DENR
director added. “We should no more devout the city to more settlements and reduce the remaining 20 percent forest cover,” Peñafiel warned.

Peñafiel reiterated re-greening the city should start now. “We must consider the soil type and slope of Baguio City that when we decrease further the forest cover, we see a bad environment for the city,” he explained.

Baguio City had been adjudged as a Hall of Famer in the nationwide “Cleanest and Greenest City” for becoming a three-time consecutive winner in the late 1990s and early 2000.

“Only 2 of 6 CAR provinces not bald”

Peñafiel said only two of the six Cordillera provinces are not bald.  Apayao province has at least 80 percent forest cover while Abra has more than 50 percent.  Ifugao, Kalinga, Benguet and Mountain Province forests have thinned, he told reporters.

Like Baguio, the rest of the Cordillera provinces which are all highland areas must have thicker forests because it has steeper slopes and mountains, said Peñafiel, a forester by profession. “This is a mission everybody has to face,” he said.

On Aug. 25, the DENR launches its Green Philippine Highways to sound out an urgent call for the need to green, beautify and clean the landscape along major highways and to confront pollution from motor vehicles.

At least 20 major highways totaling 674.5 kms linking the Cordillera provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province and the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions will be targeted by groups joining the massive nationwide re-greening.

In Baguio City, trees will be planted by groups along Marcos Highway, Kennon and Naguillan Roads. “If the 300,000 residents of Baguio City will plant one tree each, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be reduced by 1,770 kg a year,” Peñafiel said.

Cosmetics only?

Although Peñafiel admits the program is seemingly “cosmetic” because what really is needed is the re-greening of the forests and not the highways, he said it will rouse the Filipino people to awareness of re-greening the nation.

Pag pumunta ka sa bundok agad, di (If you go straight to the mountains, it is not) visible. Hindi makikita ng tao (People cannot see it).  Kokonti (There is little) impact, unlike along the highways where they can immediately see the beauty,” he said.

The DENR-CAR official further explained that after a three-year time or so of rousing the awareness of the Filipino nation, “we will expand to the mountains.” Bulatlat



© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Media Center

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