DENR plans use of drones vs illegal logging

Subscribe Now July 17, 2013 at 01:14pm

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has announced a plan to use drones in the campaign against illegal logging in Southern Mindanao, particularly in inaccessible areas hit by Typhoon "Pablo" in December last year.

Joselin Marius Fragada, DENR regional director, said he had initial talks with the company SkyEye UAV Services, which rents out drones for monitoring and mapping services.

“It will be the first time for the DENR to use it in the country. We will start with the 16 hotspot barangays in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley,” said Fragada, who declined to give an estimate of the cost of the project.

“All I know is they’ll be renting the drones based on the flying hours,” he said.

“What’s significant about this is that the data gathered by drones would be more accurate and reliable, compared to (data from) the people you’re going to send to the area. The data gathered by the drones could not lie,” he said.

Sheena Duazo, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said the use of drones is likely part of the government’s counterinsurgency plan, targeting the communist New People’s Army (NPA) rather than illegal loggers.

“Illegal logging has long been there,” Duazo said.

“Between illegal logging and combating the insurgents, I think they’re keen on the latter, because even local officials are involved in illegal logging,” Duazo said.

Fragada said that from the 66 illegal logging hotspots identified last year, there are 16 remaining hotspots in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley this year because of the intensified monitoring of the DENR and the closure of wood-processing plants and sawmills.

Fragada defined hotspots as areas where illegal logging has been persistent.

Among the hotspots in Davao Oriental are the highways of San Jose in Boston town and Papag in Cateel; Sitio Pag-asa in San Ignacio in Manay; Sitio Bangol in Tubaon, Tarragona town; Barangay Calapagan in Lupon; and Macambol in Mati City.


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