LUCENA CITY, Philippines—Charcoal production from wood products is now banned in Quezon province, a provincial official said Friday.

“Wood charcoal making in Quezon is now prohibited. The only charcoal material to be allowed is coconut shell which abounds in the province,” Board Member Victor Reyes told the Inquirer in an interview Friday.
He said the Sangguniang Panglalawigan adopted the wood-charcoal- ban provision of the provincial environment code in a hearing conducted by the committee on environment and natural resources.

Reyes noted that wood charcoal particularly from mangroves have been the preferred fuel of the thriving lechon business in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country.

The board member said the high demand have caused the fast depletion of young forest trees and mangroves in Quezon coastal areas.

Board Member Rachel Ubana, chairperson of the provincial council committee on environment, said wood charcoal traders will also face government sanctions if found transacting business in the province.

“We also have to deal with them to stop the business trade that caused the destruction of the remaining trees in the province,” Ubana said.

Fr. Pete Montallana, chair of Save Sierra Madre Network, welcomed the prohibition against wood charcoal making in the province.

“That is a welcome development. I congratulate the members of the provincial council for adopting such a decisive stand against environmental destruction,” the Franciscan priest said over the phone.

He described wood charcoal making in the Sierra Madre as the “last nail in the coffin of Mother Earth”.

“Charcoal makers were more than par with illegal loggers because they cuts young trees for their raw materials,” Montallana said as he noted that sacks of wood charcoals for sale continue to lined up along the highways of Real, Infanta and General Nakar towns at the foot of Sierra Madre in northern part of the province.

He urged the provincial officials to continue their struggle against environmental destroyers.

On Wednesday, provincial officials and environmentalist group Tanggol Kalikasan found stacks of illegally cut fully grown mangroves in a one hectare coastal area in Barangay Salinas here.

The mangroves were sewn either as lumber or for charcoal production.

Manny Calayag, Quezon-Environment and Natural Resources Office (Quezon-Enro) community coordinator, said Governor David Suarez has ordered him to coordinate with the city government in the rehabilitation of the destructed mangrove area.

Calayag said his office still maintain leftovers of mangrove propagules that were used last June where the provincial government led the massive planting of more than two million young mangroves in a single day in different coastal villages of the province.

He said will immediately dispatch a team to assess and make the necessary preparation for the planting of mangrove propagules.

Calayag said as soon as the news of the mangrove destruction was reported in the local media, his office were being swamped with calls from different groups who were offering to help in the mangrove planting project in Salinas.

“We will also conduct education and information dissemination among the villagers on the importance of mangroves to their daily lives,” Calayag said.

Last June 30, the provincial government led the massive planting of more than two million mangrove propagules in a single day in different coastal villages of the province.

Cutting mangrove trees is banned by Presidential Decree No. 705 or the Forestry Code of the Philippines and Republic Act No. 8550, otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code.

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