The management of the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (PPSRNP) has issued a warning to communities about illegally cut trees discovered during its post-Typhoon Odette inventory, advising them to source their timber lawfully or face serious consequences.
Park officials said communities in the protected area should observe chainsaw restrictions and implemented policies governing the gathering and processing of fallen trees or face legal consequences if they do not stop.
The park management is also currently handing out free pieces of lumber taken from uprooted trees in the area through barangay officials, the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO), the City Mayor’s Office, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
According to PPSRNP park superintendent (PASu) Beth Maclang, despite these initiatives, there are still residents who are cutting down trees without permission from authorities.
“Nakita sa inventory na ginawa ng park management, out of 156 na na-inventory sa Sugod 1, Barangay Cabayugan, 80 ang illegally cut after Odette,” Maclang said through Facebook Messenger.
Maclang added, residents in the protected area are apparently cutting down trees in the middle of the night.
She added that there are approximately 40 chainsaw units operating in Barangay Cabayugan alone, and that one unit has already been confiscated from its operator.
“Ngayon may na-confiscate, kami one chainsaw nagtistis ng hindi natumba ni Odette na kahoy na Ipil,” Maclang said.
“Very alarming concern ito. If Cabayugan ay 40 na agad na na-confiscate sa protected area, paano mare-recover ito after ng [chainsaw] amnesty? Paano pa ang ibang barangays, mauubos ang gubat ng Puerto Princesa,” she added.
Though the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PSCD) relaxed chainsaw regulations to help affected residents clear out debris from their areas, only those with certificates of registration may use their units.
Maclang stated that some individuals are even selling timber from fallen trees, and that these individuals should be reported to the proper authorities.
“Malapit na mag-200 logs ang naiipon sa may Lion’s Cave na private area. Ito ay para sa mga park communties na nangangailangan ng kahoy at walang kakayahang bumili ng mga kahoy na P25.00 per board feet. Patuloy kami nananwagan na wag i-accommodate ang mga ito at i-report sa park management, City ENRO, DENR, at PCSD,” she said.