Photo by Allen Joshua Rapues/ File photo

The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) is concerned that typhoon Odette wrecked havoc on Puerto Princesa’s forests, and residents are being advised to be more cautious with natural resource use, particularly after many have lost their homes and livelihoods.

Though the City ENRO’s assessment is still ongoing, they believe Odette destroyed over 80% of the city’s forests. Landslides, flooding, and overflowing rivers, in addition to severe winds, are said to have caused damage.

“Hindi pa lumalabas yong comprehensive assessment namin, damage assessment that needs analysis. Ang initial assessment namin umaabot na sa 70 to 80 percent ng ating forest area. At grabe ang landslide na nangyari, grabe ang destruction sa mga river system natin,” City ENRO chief Atty. Carlo Gomez said in an interview on Sunday.

What happened to local wildlife?
He added that they have yet to determine what happened to the local wildlife, but that they will have difficulties obtaining food due to a shortage of fruits in the forests, and that they may resort to scouring urban areas for sustenance.

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“Hindi pa namin ma-quantify ang destruction sa wildlife natin, pero nakita natin with the destruction of their habitat, food, and shelter, talagang malaking impact ng Odette sa ating wildlife. Initial and common observation namin, yong mga hindi nakikitang mga ibon dati sa mga urban area, nakikita na. Probably they are visiting their habitats na akala nila hindi na-destroy,” he explained.

“Wala ka nang makikitang mga fruiting trees ngayon kasi noong December, flowering period nila ‘yon,” he added.

The City ENRO previously stated that illegal tree cutting and logging deep in the forests may have contributed to the large amounts of lumber that were washed ashore during the onslaught of Odette. Now, felled trees are being inventoried by the department, together with barangay officials, and are being distributed to residents who lost their homes.

Gomez stated that despite the massive damage Odette caused, nature still provides abundantly, gesturing to the free felled wood being given to less fortunate residents. However, he stated that the massive destruction might have been prevented if there were fewer illegal activities and abusive natural resource extraction.

“Nature provides. Kaya sana ang panawagan ko sa mga kababayan natin na kahit sa panahon na sinalanta ang ating kapaligiran, ang kapaligiran ang nag-provide ng tulong sa ating mga tao. Hihingi lang ako ng kaunting panawagan, galangin natin ng ating kapaligiran, respetuhin natin, alagaan natin. Kasi kung sa panahon nga ng destruction, nakapag-provide ang kalikasan, kapag inalagaan natin baka mas doble pa ang benepisyo natin,” he added.

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is a senior reporter for Palawan News who covers politics, education, environment, tourism, and human interest stories. She loves watching Netflix, reading literary fiction, and listens to serial fiction podcasts. Her favorite color is blue.