MANILA, Philippines – The summer months may bring forest fires in different parts of the Philippines, warned the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“Our forests are very prone to fire especially during summer when there is less rain and the dry vegetation could easily catch fire,” said DENR Secretary Ramon Paje in a statement.
The warning comes days after the end of Fire Prevention Month and two weeks after a massive fire razed 50 hectares of forest on the peak of Mount Banahaw in Laguna and Quezon.
Harmful farming activities
But summer heat is only one factor that may lead to wildfires. Agricultural activities and logging are other reasons.
A study by the Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) showed that a “large number of settlements and intense agricultural activity” are a major reason for forest fires in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Central Luzon.
The study noted that fires often originate from valleys where locals burn grassland to turn them into grazing areas for their animals.
Forest activities like the burning of undergrowth to make way for new shoots and improve mushroom production, and the collection of honey and rattan may also spark fires.
Those who hunt for animals may also inadvertently cause forest fires when they use fire to smoke out animals from their hideouts.
The burning of stumps by illegal loggers to hide evidence of their illegal activities is yet another factor, said the study.
To prevent more forests from burning, Paje called on local government units to manage potentially dangerous farming activities like open-burning of grasslands and forests to make way for fields in which to plant their crops.
Forest protection measures should also be strictly enforced by the LGU and local protected area management boards to keep natural parks and sanctuaries safe from flames. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com