Batac: Ilocos Norte logs over P40-M damage from grass, forest fires

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(Photo courtesy of BFP Ilocos Region via PNA)

Damage caused by the over 70 grass and forest fires recorded in Ilocos Norte since the start of the year until the second week of April is estimated to have reached over PHP40 million.

In a media interview on Monday, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) chief Victor Dabalos said the estimate was based on the cost of establishing forest plantations covering more than 5,000 hectares in the fire-prone areas of Solsona, Piddig, Carasi, Vintar, and Pasuquin.

“The amount is only based on establishing these greening projects. It could be more,” he said, as he expressed alarm on the series of wildfires happening in the province, which, he said, are caused by human activities.

Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) data show that the top causes of wildfires in the province were attributed to hunting wild boar and collecting wild honey.

“By next year, we may no longer taste honey as we will be collaborating closely with the local government units to ban people from going up in the mountains, particularly during the dry season,” Dabalos added.

Meanwhile, the provincial government of Ilocos Norte has allocated PHP5 million under its cash-for-work program to benefit residents living in forest fire zone areas.

“Our governor just signed the release of PHP5 million as a cash-for-work program to residents to discourage them from going up in the mountains to hunt and collect honey,” provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer Marcel Tabjie said Monday.

Tabije said the residents will be tasked to establish “fire breaks” in hotspot areas or those near the national greening programs of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Earlier, the Ilocos Norte Fire Fighting Group, composed of personnel of the DENR, Philippine National Police (PNP), BFP, Philippine Marines, and the Philippine Air Force (PAF) was created to prevent wildfires in this province.

Aside from the conduct of joint patrol and installation of watchtowers, the group also plans to adopt a forest program to replenish those damaged by forest fires. (Leilanie Adriano via Philippine News Agency)

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