Informal settlers within the Northern Negros Natural Park, especially in three hinterland barangays of Cadiz City, where cutting of premium species of trees had been discovered recently by Task Force Ilahas and policemen, are also involved in timber poaching activities, Police Chief Inspector Gabriel Gutierrez, TFI enforcement unit chief, said.
In a report he submitted to TFI Executive Officer Jose Maria Valencia, Gutierrez said they noted during a week-long operation against poachers in forestal areas of Brgys. Celestino Villacin, Magsaysay and Andres Bonifacio, all in Cadiz City, that some housing structures, including the chapel of a religious sect, are made of endemic species of trees, such as lauan, almon, nato, mandulawnon and odling.
This is a clear indication that the residents in those areas are also behind the rapid depletion of the forest in the area, Gutierrez said.
More than 7,700 board feet of abandoned round timber and finished lumber were retrieved by TFI operatives in Sitio Dinaldangan, Brgy. Celestino Villacin, and barangays of Andres Bonifacio and Magsaysay, all in Cadiz City, which form part of the Northern Negros Natural Park, recently.
They were assisted by troopers of the Negros Occidental Public Safety Company and the 6th Special Action Battalion of the PNP.
Gutierrez said he believes that, unless our forest is cleared of informal settlers, timber poaching will continue to exist, adding that residents in those areas depend much on the forest for their livelihood.
“They cut down trees and process them into charcoal, and make use of whatever resources the forest could provide in building their houses and other related structures,” he added.
It was also noted that the destroyed forested areas have been converted into farms planted with various root crops, bananas and corn, among others.
Three kaingin sites were also discovered by TFI operatives in the three barangays.
The NNNP, consisting of the hinterland areas of Cadiz, Victorias, Sagay, Silay, San Carlos and Talisay cities, and the municipalities of Murcia, EB Magalona,Toboso, Calatrava and Don Salvador Benedicto, has a remaining forest cover of 30,178.7 hectares, according to the Provincial Environment and Management Office. *GPB