by Irma A. Guhit
SORSOGON CITY, March 28 (PIA) – The Indigenous Crops Watch of Sorsogon (ICWOS) is contesting the issuance of permit issued by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) to cut down 100 old-growth pili trees , in Barangay Cabiguhan, this city bordering the municipality of Gubat.
ICWOS head Joeris T. Olbes stated that with climate change now and the continuous rains here, trees are needed as flood control mechanisms, and pili is among those trees that have proven its resistance to typhoons. He added that the cutting of such massive number of trees can hurt the biodiversity and eco-system of the surroundings that provide watershed enhancement, sanctuary to birds and act as situ-germplasm.
ICWOS lamented that it is very unusual for an agency like the CENRO to issue a massive cutting permit specially pili which is one of the best endemic trees of the Bicol region and Sorsogon.
ICWOS has already forwarded a letter to Dr. Dennis Arsenio B. Ella, scientist from the Forest Product Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) based in Los Baños in Laguna, strongly contesting the issuance of the permit and requesting an official review of the issuance of the permit.
“As one of the most authoritative voice in the pili industry, we are earnestly seeking for your crucial opinion regarding this issue” cited the letter to Ella.
CENRO, meanwhile, stated that a certificate was issued by the City Agriculture Office here declaring these 100 trees as unproductive, however, ICWOS believes otherwise, strongly adhering to the belief that these trees can still be extracted with resin, known as “Manila elemi”, used as ingredient in paints and varnishes.
The resin also gives toughness and elasticity to pharmaceutical products such as plasters, and is an important material for printing inks, lithographic works and perfumery. In the country, it is used in torches to start fires for domestic use, caulk boats and dress of transmission belts and conveyors.
It can be recalled that in 1996, 353,415 kg of material valued at US$ 947,000 was exported to France, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.
Furthermore, the regional coordinating chairman of the Yellow Armies of Kalikasan at Proteksyon (YAKAP) of Bulusan expressed the same sentiments.
“It is very alarming to cut 100 old-growth pili trees knowing that the current government’s campaign is a total log ban” according to Reynaldo Fulleros, president of the Man and Nature Association Inc. (MANA) of Barangay Central, Bulusan, Sorsogon.
In Bulusan according to Fulleros, hundreds of old-growth pili trees abound and are never cut since they have been considered as landmarks and legacy trees. These trees contribute to the biodiversity of Bulusan and considered one of the best visual enhancers of the place.
ICWOS has also forwarded the same letter to the Bicol Regional Pili Board, chaired by Dr. Estela B.Orulfo and the Department of Agriculture (DA).
“Our group is now urgently requesting a personal statement from Dr. Ella and also a clearance from the DA, together with the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of Sorsogon to clarify us on the issue, guide the public on the legality of the action. We still stand united in keeping safe our environment”, the IWOCS group expressed. (PIA Sorsogon/mal)
Original article can be found here.