By Maritess B. Beñas
BANGUED, Abra, June 10 (PIA) — “For every one tree cut by the charcoal makers, they are required to plant ten trees as replacement to sustain their livelihood.”
This was the assurance of Engr. Ernesto Aton the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) to the public when asked what measures the PENRO has taken to ensure that the protection of environment despite the charcoal making as main source of livelihood of the people in some areas of Abra like the barangays of Salnec and Layugan in Bucay; Sta. Rosa in Peñarrubia; and Sagap of Bangued.
Aton said, the foresters are monitoring the charcoal makers in the above-mentioned areas to ensure that the policies set in the utilization permit issued to the charcoal makers are being followed particularly the cutting of trees for charcoal making purposes only in private lands.
Aton likewise stressed that only the charcoal makers from Brgy. Layugan in Bucay were issued a permit to cut Gemelina trees but, also, only those trees that are planted in their own private lands, and never the trees that are planted on public and communal lands.
Aside from the prohibition on cutting of Gemelina trees for charcoal making, Aton also urged the charcoal makers to plant and use kakawate or the locally known Made de Cacao because this is the most appropriate species for charcoal making.
The issue had been raised by some concerned citizens here who have observed some charcoal makers using Gemelina trees as charcoal.
Charcoal making is an environment unfriendly economic activity, However, Aton said, we cannot deprive those engaged in the said activity as their livelihood, so the PENRO had implemented the National Greening Program in the three areas in order to balance the ecosystem without jeopardizing the livelihood of the people since they form part of the environment. Initially, Brgy. Layugan in Bucay had been granted a 40-hectare plantation project uner the National Greening Program of the government.
“We allow the people to harvest what they have planted, provided they do not cut in the forest lands. And the activities of the charcoal makers are strictly monitored with the use of the Certificate of Verification to determine how they are complying with the policies set in their Utilization Permit.” Aton reiterated. (MTBB/PIA-Abra)