About 400,000 board feet of banned species of trees, with market value estimated P16 million, have been cut by poachers at the “Wilderness” area in Brgy. Damutan, Hinobaan, Negros Occidental.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Andre Untal reported yesterday that the illegally-cut lauan square timber were transported by poachers through rafting in the Culipapa and Basay rivers, in Hinobaan, Negros Occidental, and Bayawan in Negros Oriental, respectively, and are being sold to fishermen for use in making boat hulls.
Initial investigations by PENRO showed that the trees cut by poachers ranged from 50 to 100 years old.
The so- called “Wilderness” located in Brgy. Damutan, Hinobaan consists of more than 300 hectares of virgin forest deliberately left untouched by Insular Lumber Co. to serve as a wildlife habitat.
Untal said the century-old lauan trees may have been cut two to four years ago and left in the forest by poachers for future recovery operations. Poachers reportedly faced difficulty in retrieving the timber because of the rugged terrain.
Mayor Ernesto Estrao had earlier formed Task Force Tag-amlig, that is composed of DENR, local government unit and police, to protect the remaining forest cover of Hinobaan.
Untal said he is now coordinating with the DENR regional office and the provincial government of Negros Occidental, as well as the municipal government of Hinobaan in the retrieval of cut timber, to be used in making school chairs, among others.
The DENR has tapped residents in the Wilderness area, who are mostly IPs( Indigenous People), to preserve and protect the remaining forest cover of Hinobaan, under its National Greening Program.
There were reports earlier that financiers of timber poaching utilize IPs in the illegal cutting of trees of endangered species.
Four Hinobaan town residents were earlier charged by DENR for violation of PD 705 or the Forestry Code of the Philippines, after the recovery of boat hulls made of lauan from them.
In 2009, Task Force Ilahas operatives discovered that poachers cut about 80,000 board feet of red lauan trees in the Damutan Valley of Hinobaan.*GPB
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