Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) officials trek through the forests included in the park's protected area. | Photos courtesy of PPSRNP

A survey by Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) officials found promising forest regrowth in their areas that had been denuded in the past years due to slash-and-burn farming and illegal tree cutting.

According to park superintendent Beth Maclang, after three days of hiking through the forests of Barangays Marufinas and Tagabinet, they found that trees cut down in areas captured by satellite imagery had surprisingly grown back on their own.

“Nakakataba ng puso at nakaka-inspire talaga. Kasi kapag tiningnan mo ang mga satellite image five or ten years ago, may mga patches doon, kaya vinalidate namin on the ground. Nagpalipad kami ng drone doon, at nakita namin na may natural regrowth na nangyari,” she said in a series of interviews.

“In-expect namin, lalo na sa mga gitnang-gitna, na may mga patches na ganoon. Wala, talagang nag-regenerate,” she added.

Maclang explained that the purpose of the survey, done on March 15 to 17, was to validate areas the city’s Environmental Protection Task Force (EPTF) identified as areas of concern. The team inspected areas where satellite images taken in 2010 showed patches of denuded forests as results of either slash-and-burn farming or illegal tree cutting.

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Maclang added that they will be forwarding their findings to the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).

However, not all their findings were positive. The team found almaciga trees that were “over-tapped” by indigenous communities. She explained that this could be happening because the resin-tappers were earning little by selling the resin to buyers, thus the need to tap more resin from the trees.

“Nakita namin na talagang may mga almaciga trees na over-tapped na. Pero kaya pala ginagawa ‘yon ng mga katutubo ay dahil masyadong mura ang benta nila sa mga middlemen at buyers, P26 per kilo lang. Eh hindi ‘yon katumbas ng hirap na pinagdadaanan nila para makuha ang almaciga resin,” said Maclang.

She added that they have spoken to the indigenous groups in the resin trade not to over-tap the trees but it is still a challenge to educate them against buyers who demand lower prices for the resin. The resin is a primary raw ingredient for common household items such as varnish, paints, soaps, plastics, printing ink, linoleum, floor wax, and shoe polish. Over-tapping almaciga trees could eventually kill them and reduce their populations in their natural habitat.

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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.