The Negros Occidental provincial government is preparing to file charges against two residents of Negros Oriental for the illegal cutting of two century old red lawaantrees in Damutan Valley in Hinoba-an town, Provincial Legal Officer Jose Ma. Valencia said yesterday.
Damutan Valley is home to wildlife and the last virgin forest of Negros Occidental, which covers about 50 hectares, he said.
Hinobaan Mayor Ernesto Estrao is offering a P10,000 reward for witnesses against those responsible for the cutting trees in Damutan Valley, Valencia said. The statements of the witnesses are being taken so charges can be filed against the two suspects, Valencia said.
The two suspects are believed to be from Basay, Negros Oriental, he added.
The provincial government has hired about 30 residents of Damutan Valley to serve as BantayBukid personnel in the area, Valencia said.
Task Force Ilahas, which has policemen as members, is making protection of the DamutanValley forest a priority, he said.
He said the 1,500-hectare forest in Minoyan, Murcia, may be reforested through public-private partnership. The 500 hectares around the Bago watershed will not be touched, but the remaining 1,000 hectares can be used for the commercial tree industry, Valencia added.*CPG
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