Environment Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio Jr. yesterday said four new illegal structures in the multiple use zone of the Northern Negros Natural Park in Salvador Benedicto town have been demolished.
Ignacio, who spoke at the opening of the three-day 1 st Negros Island Region Protected Area Management Summit at the Bacolod Pavillon Hotel, also said in an interview that older existing structures within the multiple use zone without permits from the Protected Area Management Board will be fined.
Their owners will then have to apply for Protected Area Management Board permits for their structures in the area and pay rentals, he added.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Andrei Untal had earlier issued cease-and-desist orders to owners of 96 existing structures within the NNNP in Salvador Benedicto town.
Ignacio said as long as they are within the multiple use zone they will be fined and allowed to stay subject to compliance with requirements. Their activities will be contained and they should not be within geohazard areas, he said.
But Untal said new structure built within the multiple use zones without permits from the Protected Area Management Board will be automatically demolished.
He said so far, four such structures have been demolished, three of which were illegal fences and a shed made of concrete.
The DENR has given the NNNP about P5.2 million to complete its general management plan to be used as the basis for the zoning of the area, Dr. Al Orolfo, DENR NIR regional director, said.
Meanwhile, Ignacio noted that a large segment of the NIR is covered by six protected areas.
The NIR protected areas are the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park, Northern Negros Natural Park, Sagay Marine Reserve, Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park, Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seacape, and the Tanon Strait Protected Seascape, Ignacio said, which he called among the best managed in the country.
Untal said they are pushing for the Ilog Hilabangan Forest Reserve to also be declared a protected area, noting that it is the biggest watershed on the island.
Ignacio said newly appointed Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has given a new perspective to the DENR‘s approach to protecting the environment.
She said we should ensure that protection of the environment benefits the people, he said.
“We should not stop at protection and conservation, we should go further and make sure it benefits the people,” he said.*CPG
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