Benguet capital wants control over communal forests

By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
www.nordis.net

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet — The town council of this capital town approved on August 23 a resolution asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to devolve to the local government the management of the town’s four communal forests.

“Whereas, the devolution will provide an opportunity for this municipality to demonstrate innovations in its environmen management and development in its fours communal forests namely; Puguis, Shilan, Alapang and Alno,” the resolution stated.

Councilor Guiller Galwan, the proponent of the resolution, the municipal government has satisfied DENR’s requirements that include the crafting of a Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) and forest management plan.

He said that in the town’s forest management plan, areas for eco-tourism, agro-forestry and “no touch” zones were identified. “We plan to develop areas for eco-tourism and coffee plantation. But there will areas that will be strictly off limits,” he said.

The councilor added that the La Trinidad land area is very limitted and the regaining control over the communal forest would really help expand the town’s land area.

“We cannot touch the communal forests because they are under the management of the DENR,” Galwan said.

Galwan said that the Local Government Code of 1991 empowered local government units to take on bigger responsibilities in the management of its territories.

In his resolution, Galwan quoted Section 17 of the Local Government Code of 1991 that provides: “Local government units shall endeavor to be self-reliant and shall continue exercising the powers and discharging the duties and functions currently vested upon them. They shall also discharge the functions and responsibilities of national agencies and offices devolved to them pursuant to this Code…” as basis for their request for DENR to give them control over their communal forests. Galwan added that on June 30, 1992 DENR issued Administrative Order 30 which provides the guidelines for the transfer and implementation of DENR functions to be devolved to LGUs, among these is the management of communal forests.

“Whereas, under the policies governing the said administrative order, the LGUs shall share in the sustainable management and development of the environment and natural resources within their territorial jurisdiction,” the resolution stated. # nordis.net

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