>News Update Communal forest to rise in Cebu City

>CEBU CITY, Cebu – A forest in a city where everyone can plant trees and monitor the growth of their plants – that’s what the Cebu City government wants to create in its proposal to transform 150 hectares of timberland in the city’s mountain barangays into a communal forest.

The Cebu City Council is set to meet with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 to discuss its proposal for the conversion of lands in upland barangays here into a protected forest.

A communal forest is a tract of forest land set aside by the DENR for the use of residents of a municipality or city. The community then makes the forest products for their use but harvesting of resources must be in accordance with existing pertinent laws and regulations and sustainable development. Per DENR regulations, communal forests of each LGU must not exceed 5,000 hectares

The DENR will help determine feasibility of identified sites, said Councilor Nida Cabrera who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Environment. Being eyed by the Cebu City government are timberlands in the mountain barangays of Buhisan, Toong, and adjacent areas.

Cabrera said the purpose of the communal forest is to accommodate the different tree growing activities of various sectors in the city.

The City Council last July passed an ordinance mandating all establishments to submit their environment sustainability plan as part of requirements in applying for a business permit. The ordinance is applicable for two years after its passage.

Based on the survey that Cabrera’s office has conducted, most of the establishments have committed to planting trees to contribute to the global effort in combating the ill effects of climate change.

The councilor said that since most of the establishments want to plant trees for environment sustainability, the city might as well establish a communal forest where all efforts to restore the natural biodiversity of forests will be rationalized.

”So if they want to plant trees, we will refer them to the communal forest. What is being done currently is the holding of tree planting activities in different areas,” Cabrera said.

Through the communal forest, all sectors will be able to monitor their project effectively.

Cabrera said it is time to ”put the passion” in planting trees. Instead of merely planting seedlings, she said tree seedlings should be grown, which means that extra effort should be exerted in monitoring the growth of seedlings planted.

An ordinance intended to give incentives to private sector groups contributing to environmental preservation is now being drafted.

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