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Widespread charcoal production imperils forests, contributes to global warming

MANILA, May 30 —- Pervasive charcoal production in many parts nationwide is rapidly putting at risk preservation efforts of the forests, aggravating impacts of global warming and climate change to the country.

Climate Change Secretary Heherson T. Alvarez said the battle against deforestation should now also take into account the impacts of charcoal production, branding the industry as the “silent killer of the Philippine forest”.

Alvarez said the failure to curb rampant charcoal production contributes to massive depletion of the country’s forests, which consequently causes more disastrous cyclones entering the Philippines.

“Charcoal producers cut trees in watershed areas and forest, which prevent drought during El Niño and serves as carbon sink of the world,” Alvarez explained.

According to Alvarez, charcoal makers usually cut trees like ipil-ipil, mahogany, gmelina, and madre de cacao, among others, to burn and produce wood charcoal.

He lamented that the charcoal producers cut trees indiscriminately, even chopping down juvenile trees in the forests, and has employed a technology that enable them to sustain their business as an all-season activity.

In hindsight, Alvarez said charcoal makers thrive only during the summer or dry season when it is easier to dehydrate wood.

Nowadays, he added, charcoal makers learned of a tool to produce it even during the wet season that they even manage to produce an average of 500 sacks of coal per production.

But he pointed out that the forest is vital in addressing climate change because trees help in the capture of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Alvarez stressed that the atmosphere is now loaded with greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide which causes global warming and climate change.

He likewise said that forests as well as watersheds each play a crucial role in the entire river basin system since rainwater they have absorbed goes deep down to the aquifers and towards tributaries downstream that assist in easing out effects of drought or dry spell.

River basins are interlocking and integrated ecosystems, encompassing the entire land surface dissected and drained by streams and creeks that flow downhill into one another, and eventually into one lake, wetland or a catchment area. The final destination is an estuary or an ocean. A river basin sends all the water falling on the surrounding land into a central river collection.

Furthermore, Alvarez emphasized that diminishing forest cover likewise affect the rich flora and fauna of the Philippines.

“The forest, its biodiversity, soils, and water resources are already being threatened by excessive human activities, such as unsustainable harvesting of timber and other forest products for charcoal production,” said Alvarez, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Climate Change Commission.

The CCC asks local government units to rally round initiatives to step up forest conservation and restrict charcoal making in order to boost nationwide efforts against global warming and climate change.(PNA)

V3/rudyma

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