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
BY ACE ALEGRE
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
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.
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
“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
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© 2006 Bulatlat
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