ARMM’s anti-illegal logging thrusts gains headway PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 07 December 2014 14:10

The natural resources department of the Autonomous has seized only 4,400 board feet of illegal lumbers this year, more than 90 percent lower than the volume of smuggled forest products it confiscated from 2011 to 2012.

The region’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-ARMM) had seized a total of 118,266 board feet of lumbers from poachers that operated in remote forestlands in the region from 2011 to 2012.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, who has ministerial control over DENR-ARMM, said the feat is an indication that the agency is succeeding in its effort to curb illegal cutting of forest trees in densely-forested areas in the region.

“We ought to thank the rank-and-file personnel of the DENR-ARMM for doing their best to address illegal logging in the autonomous region,” Hataman told Zamboanga Times on Saturday.

Hataman explicitly mentioned the successes of the DENR-ARMM in protecting the region’s watersheds scattered in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, in his December 1 state of the region address (SORA) in Cotabato City.

“Habang sumusulong ang ating ekonomiya, patuloy naman po ang pangangalaga at proteksyon ng ating kalikasan. Tuloy tuloy na naipapanalo natin ang kampanya laban sa illegal logging,” Hataman said in his two-hour SORA.

He said there has been a 92 percent reduction in the volume of illegal forest products the DENR-ARMM had seized in 2014 compared to what operatives of the department had confiscated during prior years.

Kahal Kedtag, regional secretary of DENR-ARMM, said credit has to go to non-government organizations and cause-oriented groups helping them monitor illegal logging activities in the autonomous region.

“There are very patriotic groups helping us. Thanks to all of them,” Kedtag said.

Kedtag and Hataman both said the military and the ARMM police have also been supportive of the DENR-ARMM’s anti-illegal logging campaign.

“We in the DENR-ARMM cannot do it just by ourselves. We need continuing support from the public,” Kedtag said.

Kedtag said the effective curtailment of illegal logging activities in the autonomous region is a result of Hataman’s having declared a total ban on cutting of trees in all of the region’s forestlands after he assumed as officer-in-charge of ARMM in December 2011.

Hataman was elected as regional governor — the region’s 8th since its creation in 1989 — during the ARMM’s May 2013 elections.

“That ban is still in effect until today. It has never been lifted since Gov. Hataman declared it,” Kedtag said.

The DENR-ARMM had also  facilitated the planting of more than 10 million forest trees in barren lands in the past two years through reforestation projects supported by the police, the military and various civil society organizations.