Forestry students reach out to rural communities to advocate forest conservation

VINTAR, Ilocos Norte — The rugged terrain surrounded by dry and deteriorating hilly mountains in remote Dipilat village, about 10 kilometers from the town proper is all worth it for students and members of the Junior Foresters’ Association (JFA) of the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) if only to let villagers here appreciate the value of a healthy forest equals a healthy living.

As part of the forestry week celebration slated on February 2-7, the MMSU-College of Agriculture, Food and Sustainable Development in Batac City spearheaded the event dubbed as, “The Forestry Profession for ASEAN Integration.”

Charlie Batin, organizational adviser of the JFA, said the celebration highlights the conduct of a seminar on Environmental and Natural Resources Laws in the landslide-prone area of Dipilat village.

Batin said this initiative aims to foster environmental awareness for sustainable forest management, leadership among forestry students and forestry professionals and promote camaraderie as pre-requisites for ASEAN integration.

This year, the association purposely selected a remote village in Vintar town where charcoal-making is prevalent in the area.

As part of the environment conservation efforts of the university, Batin said his students opted to reach out rural communities here and advocate measures to make peace with nature by putting a halt to destructive activities like cutting more trees and the practice of Kaingin system or the so-called slash and burn.

Aside from the seminar attended by about 60 participants, the forestry week also featured an exhibit and forestry Olympiad such as Quiz bee, poster-making, seed, wood and leaf identification.

The Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines under Presidential Decree No. 705 ensures the protection, rehabilitation and development of forest lands, in order to ensure the continuity of their productive condition.

In view this, forestry students took the initiate to increase public awareness about these environmental laws and regulations governing forest lands to support re-oriented government programs, projects and efforts to properly manage, utilize, protect, rehabilitate and develop remaining forest lands in the province.(PNA)

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