PALAYAN CITY, Nueva Ecija— The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here received recently some P1.2 million worth of firefighting equipment from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to further boost the reforestation and protection of the 44,000-hectare Pantabangan-Carranglan watershed in Nueva Ecija under the Forestland Management Project (FMP), environment official said.
Alfredo Collado, provincial chief of DENR in Nueva Ecija said the firefighting tools would be helpful to sustain their efforts in the protection of the plantations that have already been established under FMP inside the Pantabangan-Carranglan watershed.
“Grassfire is one of the factors that destroy our forest plantations. If we cannot protect our reforestation areas from this destructive agent, our efforts would be nothing,” he explained.
He said the delivery of firefighting equipment is very timely for their preparation in the coming summer months this March and April and will augment their present capabilities in fire suppression and control, he said.
Since 2015, the DENR has recorded a total of nine fire incidents in the Pantabangan-Carranglan watershed which burned a total of 130
hectares established plantations of FMP with a total damage cost of more than P600,000 cause by extreme weather condition in the area.
Collado said the plantations that have been razed by fire were already replanted with indigenous forest tree seedlings and are now being strictly monitored for fire occurrence.
The DENR has also embarked on a massive information campaign to local communities in the watershed as a strategy to prevent the occurrence of grass and forest fire that may cause by human activity, he added.
Launched in 2012, FMP is a ten (10) year reforestation project that aims to rehabilitate the Pantabangan-Caranglan watershed, which is one of the biggest protected areas in Central Luzon and to strengthen the forestland management through the implementation of collaborative community-based forest management (CBFM) strategy.
Since 2012, FMP has already established more than 7,000 hectares of plantations within the Pantabangan-Carranglan watershed planted with 6.2 million indigenous forest and fruit tree seedlings.
The Pantabangan reservoir covers 8,000 hectares and supplies irrigation water to more than 80,000 agricultural lands in Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pampanga.