Kalikasan PNE challenges Isabela Gov: Expose and persecute big-time loggers!

For the past months, Gov. Grace Padaca has been actively campaigning against illegal logging in Isabela, and has in fact successfully confiscated logs worth millions of pesos. But for Kalikasan-PNE, a militant environment group, efforts to curb forest denudation must be focused on big-time loggers and the politicians behind them.

“We challenge the governor to expose and persecute big-time loggers and corrupt politicians instead of going after poor communities doing small-scale logging in her province. She has the authority and responsibility to do this. In addition, statistics and studies have shown that the major denuders of forest are the big-time legal commercial loggers who are also the ones the main financiers and buyers of illegal logging in the country,” Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator Clemente Bautista Jr.

According to a study made by Center for Environmental Concerns, an environmental education and research NGO, legal or government-sanctioned logging accounts for 68% of the total forest cover loss from 1981 to 2002, while illegal logging accounts only for 2%.

“Facts show that the big-time commercial loggers in Isabela are the ones who cleared vast tracts of forest and even up to now are the main culprits of forest destruction in the province. In 2006, one logging company in Isabela was allowed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to log 25,887 hectares of forest; this is already way more than the declared forest reserve in the province. Also, in 2006, there were 7 logging companies which have Industrial Tree Plantation Agreement (ITPLA) which allow them to exploit a total of 62,266 hectares of forest areas. This reflects how the policy of Arroyo government and the DENR favors commercial logging over forest conservation and rehabilitation,” explains Mr. Bautista.

Based on the data from Forest Management Bureau (FMB), the total forest lands in Isabela is 411,804 hectares in 2003. In 2006, there is only one forest reserve in the province which is Tumauini Watershed Forest Reserve covering 17,670 hectares of forest lands in the Isabela.

“Gov. Padaca and other local government officials with forests in their area of jurisdiction should strike at the root of forest denudation and this is the licensed operations of big-time loggers. They should use their legitimate power and to cancel the permit of destructive logging operations and hold the big-time loggers accountable. At the same time, communities involved in small-scale logging should be assisted and provided with alternative livelihoods,” Mr. Bautista explains.###  (Kalikasan)

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