NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
Cong. Edgar Chatto has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to relax its policy on the utilization of fallen trees in private and public lands.
In a formal letter to Secretary Jim Sampulna and in conversation with Usec. Mitch Cuna, Chatto outlined recommendations including the push for the extension on the moratorium on issuing clearances for fallen trees in areas affected by Typhoon Odette.
In the wake of Odette, DENR had issued a memorandum suspending requirement for recovery and transport permit of three months so anyone can use assorted-sized lumber out of fallen, uprooted trees, provided these were located in private or titled lands in Odette affected areas identified by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). The memo followed regular guidelines for fallen trees after a typhoon or fire.
Chatto requested for the extension of the suspension of permits justifying the need to support the shelter rehabilitation program in Odette affected localities.
The DENR has extended its suspension of Wood Recovery Permit (WRP) for 3 months starting from issuance of the memo on March 2. It partially lifts its suspension of WRP for 3 months to cover only the retrieval and disposition of uprooted and typhoon damaged trees in Odette affected areas.
The issuance of WRP for the retrieval
and disposition of abandoned logs, drifted logs, sunken logs, tree stumps, tops and
branches meanwhile remain suspended.
Chatto also raised a review on the agency’s policy on fallen trees in private and public lands with respect to their use for shelter rehabilitation.
He pointed out that under the preset setup, those who intend to use the lumber from fallen trees obtain clearance from the Provincial DENR office.
This he said entails transport and even food expense on applicants especially for those whose residences are far from the office, also considering that these applicants have incurred loss of shelter and are seeking clearance for the use of such trees to rebuild their homes.
Chatto recommended to the DENR to localize the approval of clearances for fallen trees for shelter rehabilitation purposes to the barangay captain of the area where the private land is situated. The barangay officials know best the circumstances of each applicant including ownership of land and trees in their area.
In case of transport to another barangay in the same municipality, he stated, a certification on the need of applicant for personal shelter use of lumber from fallen trees in privately owned land, may also be issued by the barangay captain of the destination barangay.
The role of the DENR in this setup is to validate duly issued clearances by the barangay captains, he further recommended.
Meanwhile, transport of lumber to another municipality will continue to require DENR clearance.
Chatto also proposed for a policy on the utilization of uprooted/fallen trees within public lands for donation by DENR to cities or municipalities where the land is located, for release to intended shelter rehabilitation beneficiaries duly certified by the city or municipal social welfare and development officer.
He said that LGUs may also accept donations of lumber from fallen trees coming from private donors who are willing to help in the LGU shelter rehabilitation program, following guidelines required in the transport of these lumber for use by duly-identified beneficiaries.
DENR Usec. Cuna told Chatto that his other recommendations are now under study by the Forest Management Bureau (FMB) of the agency.
“At times when typhoon or other natural calamities affect our people, simplified and less costly government procedures would be most helpful for immediate recovery,” Chatto said.