The Benguet Pine forest in Baguio City.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau-Watershed and Water Resources Research Development and Extension Center (ERDB-WWRRDEC) and DENR Regional Office CAR, hosted a Webinar on Minimizing Risks to Benguet Pine Forest on July 21, 2022.

The said webinar is part of the DENR’s share in advocating ecological awareness and call for environmental conservation in the region.

As the Cordillerans hoped to attain the long-waited autonomy, the DENR also continued its pursuit of equipping all community members of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) with the status of its environment and natural resources.

The Department believed that people’s means of taking care of their resources start with getting to know the details of what they have.

The webinar was conducted to inform the people, especially the residents about the current condition of the natural resources in the Region to serve as a gateway to putting collective efforts into its conservation, protection, rehabilitation and development.

Ms. Estrella E. Patrimonio, Senior Science Research Specialist of WWRRDEC, was tapped as the resource speaker for the webinar.

She shared with the virtual audiences that Benguet Pine Forest is the most notable forest type in the watersheds of CAR.

Its watersheds that provide clean water supply even to its adjacent Regions are originally endowed with rich and diverse vegetation which is dominated by the needle-leaved tree called Benguet Pine.

However, these pine forests thriving in the watershed cradle of the north are now threatened by both natural and man-made causes.

It was recorded that the conversion of forestlands to different land uses continues to increase in the Region due to the demand for housing and agricultural crops to meet the basic needs of the booming population.

Recently, Benguet Pine Forest also suffered from the razes of forest fire which killed many Benguet Pine saplings.

Pest infestation brought about by climate change, and other human-induced damages also add extra stress to these vital forests.

Ms. Patrimonio also mentioned that Ips calligraphus, a bark beetle pest, was first recorded in Baguio in 1956.

This was later observed as one of the culprits in the death of some Benguet Pine trees both in CAR and Region 2.

These pressures somehow cripple pine forests from sustaining the fresh, cool, rich, and safe place in the Region.

Despite the critical condition of the Benguet Pine Forest, Ms. Patrimonio said that people can still do something to abate these threats.

She said that proper use, care and maintenance of our natural resources will eventually keep the remaining forest vegetation in the region protected.

After the lecture and open forum, a quick quiz was participated in by the attendees. Sharmaine L. Egalla, WWRRDEC