By CYRUS M. GARDE
BACOLOD City — Illegal logging proliferates because there are groups and individuals patronizing illegally cut trees, an Environment official in Negros Occidental said.
Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) Vilma Linates believes illegal loggers were being enticed by such groups and individuals.
Linates said this in light of the recent discovery of 500 illegally cut pieces of lawaan lumber in Hinobaan town.
Authorities confiscated the lumber found piled in the backyard of the alleged poachers in barangays Culipapa and Bacuyangan.
The pieces of lumber, mostly century-old, were about 1,000 cubic meters and cost an estimated P16 million, and were taken from the forest in Brgy. Damutan.
Linates appealed to people, especially from the private sector, to stop fueling illegal logging activities by buying illegally cut trees.
She said several people buy illegally cut trees because they are cheaper. But if there is no market for such trees, the trade would not prosper, she said.
Linates’ office covers the municipalities of Hinobaan and Cauayan.
Four people were charged in court over the confiscated illegally cut lawaan lumber. They were accused of violating Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.
Linates refused to name the suspects.
The CENRO confirmed, however, that the confiscated lumber were supposed to be used to make boat hulls.
Red lawaan species is found only in Negros Island, especially in the wilderness, said Linates.
Those confiscated last week were transported by poachers through rafting in the Culipapa and Basay rivers in Hinobaan, Negros Occidental, and Bayawan, Negros Oriental, respectively, she revealed.
Provincial ENRO chief Andres Untal earlier said the poachers may have cut the lawaan trees two to four years ago and left the timber for future recovery.
Untal had said the timber will be donated to the Department of Education or the Department of Social Services and Development to be used in making school chairs.
Hinobaan Mayor Ernesto Estrao earlier formed Task Force Tag-amlig to protect the town’s forests.
The task force comprises representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, local government unit and the police./PN