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Sustainable Tourism Program for the Taal Volcano protected Landscape

>Pusod conducted Rapid Assessment of Risk and Vulnerabilities of Biodiversity in Malarayat Ecosystem to Climate Change using Geomatics by Forester Rick Jayson Tatlonghari

(VIDEO)Mt. Malarayat, Taal Lake may Digitized Map na
Batas Pangkagubatan, itinuro para sa Malarayat
Fire Lines Created to Protect Mt. Malarayat
BMS: a Continuous Pledge to Protect Mt. Malarayat
Pusod's statement on recent incidents of fishkill in Taal Lake


Mt. Malarayat, Taal Lake may Digitzed Map na
By: ABS-CBN Southern Tagalog



Batas Pangkagubatan itinuro para Sa Malarayat
Ulat ni Arvel L. Malubag

Brgy. Sto. Nino,Lungsod ng Lipa – Sa pamamagitan ng mga pagsasanay sa para sa Mt. Malarayat Forest Reserve ay inaasahang patuloy na magiging mayabong ang kabundukan at mapapanatili ang likas – yamang matatagpuan dito.

Ayon kay Rodrigo P. Arcillas, Senior Forest Guard ng MAKBAN ( Makiling- Banahaw) Watershed Team-ng National Power Corporation (NPC), “malaking tulong ang Law Enforcement Training na ito para dagdag kaalaman namin sa batas pangkagubatan”.
Umaasa umano na mas mabibigyan pa ng kaalaman sa nasabing pagsasanay ang mga nagsidalo sa batas pangkagubatan at iba pang may kinalaman sa batas pangkapaligiran, tamang proseso ng pag-aresto, pagkumpiska, detensyon at pangangalap ng ebidensya.

Ang Mt Malarayat Forest Reserve ay 1,210 hektaryang lupain at kabundukan sa ilalim ng Presidential Proclamation 842, at bahagi ng 162,000 ng Exectutive Order No. 224. Ang nasabing forest reserve ay nakapaloob sa 5 barangay na kinabibilangan ng Brgy Talisay, Sto Nino, Malitlit, San Celestino at San Benito sa lungsod ng Lipa.

Bagama’t ang pagbuo ng pinag-isang plano para sa pagpapatupad ng batas pangkalikasan at patuloy na pagprotekta sa Malarayat Forest Reserve ay nakatakdang gawin ay ipinaabot ng mga dumalo ang kanilang suporta sa NPC, Lipa City Head Water Councils at Mount Malarayat-Malepunyo Watershed Protection Councils na sa wakas umano ay mapag-iisa na rin ang layuning mapangalagaan ang nabanngit na bundok.

Naging tagapagsanay sa tatlong araw ng nasabing pagsasanay sina Atty. Ronely Sheen,G. Glenn Forbes at G. Jay Lim mula sa samahang Tanggol Kalikasan, na pawang mga eksperto sa larangan ng pagpapatupad ng batas. Ilan sa mga ibinahagi nila ay Environmental Law Enforcement Principles and Practice, Arrest Seizure and Detention, Law on Evidence Process and New Rules on Environmental Cases, Law on Evidence – mga paksang lubos na nagustuhan ng mga Bantay-Gubat dahil na rin sa ang mga ito ay kabilang sa mahahalagang kaalaman na kanilang magiging sandata sa pagharap sa mga paglabag sa mga batas pangkalikasan. Kabilang rin sa nabanggit na pagsasanay ay ang pagsasabuhay ng mga kalahok ang aktuwal na pagpapatupad ng batas pangkalikasan.

Samantala,tinalakay naman ng mga kinatawan ng DENR IV-A CALABARZON na sina Forester Victor Mercado at Forest Joseph Palomar ang mga batas at panunutunan na may kinalaman sa mga buhay-ilang o ang Wildlife Protection and Conservation Act (Republic Act 9147 at NIPAS Act National Integrated Protected Areas System NIPAS Act RA 7586. Nagbahagi rin si Forester Ramon Berbano ng ilang mga mahahalagang nilalaman ng Presidential Decree 705 o Forestry Code at Chainsaw Act (RA 9175).

Sa kasalukuyan ay ninanais ng National Power Corporation (NPC), sa tulong narin ng ibang ahensya at samahang nangangalaga at nagpoprotekta sa Mt Malarayat Forest Reserve na magkaroon ng Operations Protocol upang magkaroon ng organisadong pamamaraan at proseso sa pagpapatupad ng mga batas pangkalikasan sa Mt Malarayat. Ayon kay Forester Eleanor Perez ng NPC, sinimulan umano ang kanilang pakikibaka sa pagpapalaganap ng impormasyon na mapangalagaan ang kabundukan sa mga komunidad na nakapalibot dito noong 2004. Kasunod din aniya nito ay ang pagbuo ng Mt Malaraya – Malepunyo Watershed Protection Council (MMWPC) na nagpapatupad ng batas pangkalikasan. Ang MMWPC ay binubuo ng piling mamamayan at mga opisyal ng barangay na binigyan ng kapangyarihang ipatupad ang mga batas pangkalikasan sa nasasakupan ng reserbasyon ng Makiling at Banahaw.

Ang binuong Lipa Headwaters Council ay gumagawa naman ng mga polisiya o legislative na siyang magiging gabay sa pagpapatupad ng mga gawain para sa kabundukan, habang ang Deputized Forest Officers (Bantay-Gubat) naman ng Mt Malaraya – Malepunyo Watershed Protection Council (MMWPC) naman ang implementing arms o nagpapatupad ng mga batas pangkalikasan sa loob ng reserbasyon.

Ipinabatid naman ng kinatawan mula sa PNP Lipa ang kanilang suporta sa anumang maging hakbangin ng NPC at ng stakeholders ng Lipa City bilang tugon sa natapos na pagsasanay.

Ang nabanggit na pagsasanay ay pinangunahan ng samahang PUSOD Inc at ng City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) ng Lipa ay ginanap ang “ Basic Training on Environmental Law Enforcement ” noong nakaraang Agosto 3 – 5, 2011 sa Brgy. Sto. Nino, Lipa City. Dinaluhan ito ng iba’t – ibang “stakeholders” ng Mt. Malarayat tulad ng CT-ENRO, National Power Corporation – Makiling Banahaw (NPC-MakBan), kinatawan ng Lipa Philippine National Police (PNP), mga barangay kapitan at Deputized Forest Officer (DFOs) na sakop ng Mt. Malarayat tulad ng Talisay, Sto. Nino, Malitlit, San Celestino at San Benito.

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Fire Lines Created to Protect Mt. Malarayat
By: Robee Ilagan

Fire Lines Created to Protect Mt. Malarayat
Community Monitoring Team of Brgy. Sto. Niño established a fireline at the tree planting site of Pusod Inc. to prevent the spread of fire during summer season.

Last April 2011 the local government unit of Brgy. Sto. Nino and Pusod Inc. an environmental NGO joined forces in expanding the protection for the reserved forest of Mt. Malarayat in Lipa City Batangas. In line with the objective of sustaining areas protected by these two actors and with the increasing concern of forest fires brought about by the summer season, initiative of creating fire lines were brought up.
               
Forest fires are considered to be one of the most dangerous disasters sinceuncontrolled blazes fuelled by weather, wind, and dry underbrush, wildfires can burn acres of land—and consume everything in their paths—in mere minutes. Research says that there are three conditions that need to be present in order for a wildfire to burn: fuel, oxygen, and a heat source. Fuel is any flammable material surrounding a fire, including trees, grasses, brush, even homes. The greater an areas fuel load, the more intense the fire. Air supplies the oxygen a fire needs to burn. Heat sources help spark the wildfire and bring fuel to temperatures hot enough to ignite. Lightning, burning campfires or cigarettes, hot winds, and even the sun can all provide sufficient heat to spark a wildfire.*
               
Once forest fires are ignited, the danger continues to grow because fires in this state are rapidly spreading. Some fires spread along the dead leaves and branches at the bottom of trees. Some fires spread when the leafy canopy catches fire. Also, burning leaves and branches can get blown ahead of the main fire causing smaller fires to start. Indeed wind is a major factor, an element that is very abundant in mountain ranges.
               
Being surrounded with huge forests in a tropical country like the Philippines, forest fires are major concerns as well. Last January 2004 International Tropical Timber Organization made a Fire Analysis in the country, recommending that a program is required to train and qualifies personnel as necessary in all level of forest fire management (fire line suppression operations to overall incident management) to a common national standard. No such ability currently exists although the DENR, BFP and some local authorities and private companies maintain a limited ability to train personnel for low level fire line suppression operations.
               
A firebreak also called a fireroad, fire line or fuel break is a gap in vegetation or other combustible material that acts as a barrier to slow or stop the progress of a forest fire. The main idea is that there is a need to break the path of the fire, giving fire fighting personnel a chance to get the fire under control. A wide variety of tools can be used to create fire lines, and they take a number of forms, from natural features like rivers to rototilled areas near the front lines of a fire. Firebreak management could be a particularly effective, efficient and low-cost method of simultaneously addressing the issues of wildfire hazards, property damage, the impending energy crisis, global warming, changes to wildlife habitats, and lumber shortages.

Two sites were given attention by Pusod Inc and Brgy. Sto. Nino, the first site has 2 ha elevation 2263ft while the2nd site has 3 ha elevation 2564 ft. The operation was headed by community monitoring team former Bgry. Councillor Regino Pesa, Ronel Pesa, Lexter Osmillo, Juanito Bolino and Ben Borromeo.

Sources:
http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/wildfires/
ITTO Review of Forest Fire Management in The Philippines, 2003
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-fire-lines.htm


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BMS: a Continuous Pledge to Protect Mt. Malarayat
By: Robee Ilagan           

Initiated as early as December 2009, Pusod Inc, through its conservation project funded by the Philippine Tropical Forests Conservation Foundation (PTFCF) conducted a Biodiversity Monitoring System (BMS) Orientation and Installation for two barangays in the area of Mt. Malarayat, Lipa City –Brgy. Sto Nino and Talisay. The said initiative was also participated by other institutions such as members of the Lipa Headwaters Council (LHWC) from City ENRO, PENRO, and LIMA. Running for 2 years now, the BMS serves as a project that pursues community involvement and protection building for the reserve area.

The Biodiversity Monitoring System is a monitoring tool developed for protected areas and is used in the Philippines and even in other nations which aims to assess and check on the forest resources, both flora and fauna, as well as the threats and changes to the protected area. In the Philippines there exist 27 monitoring sites in 36 protected areas. In order to fulfil the basic provisions in the said projects different preparatory activities were enacted. Activities such as orientation seminars and planning transect establishment, site assessment, installation and tree planting.

Two years have passed but the concern and care for Malarayat never runs out as Pusod Inc. in cooperation with Barangay Local government of Sto.Nino and Talisay continuously monitor and protect their specific areas of responsibilities. As agreed upon by involved parties, scheduled monitoring visits to sites are enacted at least twice upon by selected barangay officials.
Furthermore, a requested field journal shall be submitted to Pusod Inc for documentation purposes and closer look into the area. Last April 2011, here are some summarized observations from areas of Brgy. Talisay and Sto.Nino (field reports are in the vernacular to preserve the genuine though within each journal entry).

Dated April 6 2011, Councilor Pedro Latorre of Brgy. Talisay narrated, “Pagdating ko sa PNB na may nakabuntong kalbang, nakapanlulumo… dalawang termino ko itong inaalagaan ngunit ngayon pinuputol na lang nila.” This sentiment was also shared by another forest ranger, Democrito Obales stating “sa BMS1 nakita ko nakabunton ang mga pinutol na kalbang.”

Furthermore, to the dismay of the monitoring team another incident was seen. “Written on the same day by Latorre, “sa BMS 8 doon ko nakita… sinunog ang taniman ng kahoy at maraming namatay [napuno].” These two incidents are noted and documented however, nothing would reach a solution until actions are further made.Other reports from field journals include observations of pacific environment and more people exploring the premises for viewing pleasures and environmental engagement.

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Pusod's statement on recent incidents of fishkill in Taal Lake:

So many irresponsible statements are being bandied about regarding the fishkill in Taal Lake.  Amidst all the riffraff, there are a few things that bear mentioning to clarify the issues.
 
     The first is that only 360 fishcages were affected by the fishkill.  That is out of over 7,000 cages in total, around 5% of the cagefishkill in batangass were affected.  Since only 6,000 of them were given permits by the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape's Protected Area Management Board, only over a thousand cages were illegal.  It cannot be said to be 5% of total aquaculture production, however, as there is no record or monitoring of stocking density or compliance with the prescribed size of the cage.  When the price of fish dropped to a low of P2, the crisis reached all of the cages and extended even to fishermen in other water bodies.
 
     The second is that any permits issued by the local government would be void as Taal Lake waters are not Municipal Waters but Protected Area.  This is clear from the definition of Municipal Waters which excludes all protected areas.  As such, the municipalities have no authority to grant fishery privileges over Taal Lake waters.  The LGUs merely administer the permit system but it is the PAMB that authorizes issuance of permits for cages in a protected area.  In 2007, the municipal governments pitched in to conduct a process for the determination of practical rules on fisheries in the lake and consultations among sectors.  The PAMB which count the Mayors as members, unanimously passed these rules that limited the number of cages to 6,000 and prescribed their sizes, stocking densities and ownership by residents.
 
     But not being sufficiently funded, the PAMB relies on the Municipal Governments for administration of the permit system and the Provincial Government's Task Force Taal Lake to enforce the allocation of cages among towns and barangays.  The entity that has invested the most in ensuring some level of compliance with the Unified Rules has been the Provincial Government, spending millions each year in the last three years for its Task Force.  However, there were delays by the municipal governments in providing the task force a list of the cages that could be granted PAMB permits, thereby preventing the Task Force from enforcing against illegal cages when the legal ones are not identified.  Without the lists for the PAMB to use in issuance of permits, all cages would be illegal in that town.  It is unrealistic for the Task Force to demolish all cages so any delays by the Mayors in submitting the names constitutes a delay in enforcement.
 
     Another unfortunate circumstance to be considered is that the Unified Rules and Regulations were not signed by the DENR Secretary.  While the rules under the NIPAS Act authorizes the PAMBs to issue rules for governance of protected areas, the NIPAS Act itself gives rulemaking power only to the Secretary.  WIthout the Secretary's signature, cage owners and their political allies were able to gain concessions and enforcement consequently suffered delays.
 
     Since the overturn that caused oxygen depletion is a natural occurrence, fishkills are bound to happen in Taal seasonally.  Previous years of enforcement have only entailed dismantling of abandoned cages left by those who were unable to secure permits.  In recent efforts, the remaining cages have had harvestable stock which could be forfeited in enforcement efforts.  Observations that owners of cages started double stocking their licensed cages for fear that unlicensed ones would be dismantled and the stock forfeited.   It stands to reason that the volume of fish affected by the current fishkill were a results of double stocking and non-compliance with the rules.   At the senate hearing on the issue, Senator Recto was able to establish based on responses of those invited to speak that most of the ones affected were not only overstocking but were also owned by foreigners. 
 
     It would have been, as an Inquirer editorial pointed out, Cosmic Justice, but it is also critical to point out that the drop in prices of fish from P90 to P2 a kilo was disastrous to all others that were not affected.  The impact on artisanal fishers who were lucky enough to have caught fish but could not sell it is the height of injustice.  Those responsible for overstocking should at the very least be made liable for the damage to others that their non-compliance brought about.
 
     The rules also required a P10,000 bond for each module of four cages to be deposited in an interest bearing account.  The bond will answer for abandonment of a cage or its dismantling in case of violation and withdrawal of a permit, 
 
     In a sense, the fishkill was a wake up call that no further delays in enforcing the rules can be tolerated.  Dismantling of remaining illegal cages will be undertaken within the week with four teams of the Task Force Taal Lake with resources from the Department of Agriculture.  Stocking density, measuring fishcage sizes and reducing wastage in feeding regimens would be monitored, hopefully by the LGUs.   This can be done by requiring self-monitoring reports, encouraging peer level reporting and monitoring the delivery of feeds.  Some changes in the rules that would make monitoring easier, permit fees higher and non-payment of bonds punishable can be considered.   A requirement of insurance provisions for fishkill events can also cover affected artisanal fisherfolk as beneficiaries.
 
     As some sectors call for a zero fishcage policy, the lessons to be learned by those that benefit from the industry is that they can only continue benefitting from the lake if it is not abused.  And the days of fishcages will be numbered not only from resource degradation but also if it continues to demonstrate that it is a ungovernable industry and political awakening will declare the lake free of cages.


Pusod is a member of the PAMB.

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