DENR-Davao urged to review Watershed Code before issuing permit to cut trees

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 March) – The Watershed Management Council (WMC) has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Davao to take into consideration the provisions of the Watershed Code of Davao before issuing permits to cut trees.

Rain over the mountains of Marilog District in Davao City. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

This after DENR-Davao granted a Private Land Timber Permit (PLTP) to Ling-Ling Wu Lee on August 18, 2021, covering a 12.2-hectare property at the Mounts Makabol-Alikoson Conservation Area (MMACA) in Sitio Falcata, Macabol, Barangay Salaysay, Marilog District.
Atty. Mark Peñalver, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability Inc. executive director, said in a statement that the WMC passed a resolution last February 4 urging DENR-Davao to consider the Watershed Code before allowing cutting activities within the watershed areas.
The permit issued to Wu allowed the cutting of century-old trees, including 22 Agoho, 4 Bagtikan, 15 Lauan, 44 Tanguile, and 36 Ulian trees to pave the way for the “intended land development.” But DENR-Davao executive director Bagani Fidel A. Evasco said the property owner desisted from cutting the trees in October last year.
Peñalver said the code lists down the “prohibited activities” in conservation areas and Agro-Forestry/Agricultural Non-Tillage areas.
The Mounts Makabol-Alikoson Conservation Area (MMACA) is classified as “environmentally critical area” under the Watershed Code.
Aside from the WMC resolution, Peñalver added that the Local Zoning Review Committee (LZRC) passed Resolution No. 7 last February 16 requesting the City Council of Davao to require the DENR to secure zoning compatibility certification for all tree cutting permit application in the city.
He said the resolution ensures “avoidance of the issuance of tree-cutting permits in areas that require biodiversity protection” and urges all public and private entities/agencies to observe Zoning Ordinance, which “specifies areas for production and areas for protection and conservation.”
But Peñalver reiterated their call to declare Mounts Makabol-Alikoson Conservation Area critical watershed and critical habitat of the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) pursuant to Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.