LGUs' roles crucial in forest management -DENR
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet, July 11 (PIA) -- The role and responsibilities of local government units to protect, preserve and rehabilitate forestlands from further destruction could not be downplayed, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
This was emphasized during the orientation workshop for members of the newly organized Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Council, which included concerned municipal representatives sponsored by the Jaime V. Ongpin Foundation, Inc. in partnership with the provincial government.
The activity aims to put in place institutional mechanisms for proper management of forestlands.
Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 provides that the local government units (LGUs) shall share with the national government the responsibility in the management and maintenance of ecological balance within their territorial jurisdictions. Section 17 particularly covers the devolved forest management functions such as enforcement of forestry laws in community based forestry project, integrated social forestry programs and communal forests. But these are still subject to supervision, control and review of the DENR.
Environment and Natural Resources Office-Benguet representative Severino Balangcod briefed participants on Department Administrative Order No. 30 series 1992. This prescribes the guidelines for the transfer and implementation of DENR functions devolved to the LGUs and DENR-Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Joint Circular 1998-01 that spells the policies that shall govern the implementation of DENR-DILG-LGU partnership on devolved and other forest management functions.
Partnership and cooperation of the LGUs and other concerned sectors is very important in seeking and strengthening the participation of local communities for forest management including enforcement of forestry laws.
Balangcod explained that for the province, they will be involved in the enforcement of forestry laws limited to community-based projects.
Subject to the control, supervision and review of DENR, the municipality will be involved in the management and control of community projects communal forest with an area not exceeding five hectares, establishment of tree parks, greenbelts, and similar forest development projects.
Accordingly, there are only a few cases of partnership in forest management.
Towards placing institutional mechanisms for proper management of forestlands, Balangcod stressed the need for the creation of working groups among core government agencies in institutionalizing mechanisms to supervise implementation of forest management programs.
"Such is the case of the creation of regional steering committee as they play an important role in the devolution of functions of DENR. There is also a need to organize multi-sectoral forest protection committees at the LGU level," he further said.
According to Balangcod, it is also assumed that proper systems and duties on the devolved functions are in place such as policies, planning, implementation, financial management, and monitoring and evaluation.
Balangcod stressed the need for a memorandum of agreement in further strengthening the implementation of devolved functions such as the management of communal forests. Initial steps undertaken by some LGUs in line with the devolution of such functions is the crafting of management plans particularly on communal forests.
Communal forest management plans of Topdac in Atok and Pappa in Sablan are currently being worked out for possible turn-over to the respective LGUs, Balangcod informed. (JDP/SCA- PIA CAR,Benguet)
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