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DENR gears up for summer season

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, March 28 — The Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources regional office is on high alert as authorities from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration declared recently the official onset of this year’s summer season.

Maximo Dichoso, executive director of the regional DENR here, said more than 2,000 forest and fire protection officers and upland farmers who are active members of people’s organizations throughout Central Luzon gear up to combat the threats of wildfire in vast tracts of dry grasslands in the provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija.

"Forest fire incidents peak in summer, usually from February to May, when arid conditions become more pronounced," Dichoso said.

He said that close to 200 hectares of forest plantations and reforestation projects were scorched last year by wildfires that spread from adjacent grasslands.

Amid threats of El Nino, he said 120 people’s organizations with community-based forest management projects with the DENR race to establish fire and green breaks in some 21,000 hectares of forestlands.

"Forest villagers and local governments are better able to deal immediately with fire emergencies. Engaging their services will help DENR respond quickly when fire breaks out in remote places," he said.

He said the DENR regularly provides science-based fire management trainings to active members of people’s organizations to enable them to respond quickly to fire alerts.

"Forest fire prevention is essential to sustain the gains of the National Greening Program so that government investments don’t go to waste," forestry deputy director Sofio Quintana said.

More than 12,000 hectares of new forests have been established throughout Central Luzon since President Benigno Aquino III launched the NGP in 2011.

DENR statistics showed that Central Luzon has more than 400,000 hhecatres of grasslands and other open areas.

Forest fires release carbon dioxide and sulfur into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming and climate change.

Studies from the earth observatory of the National Aeronautics Space Administration, said the burning of tropical forests releases 2.4 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere each year. (PNA)

HBC/ZST/PS/ABB

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