ALANGALANG, Leyte, August 29 (PIA) -- The Korea Federation of Fire Association (KFFA) will turnover to the local government of Alangalang, Leyte a newly refurbished fire truck worth P13 million on August 30 at the Central Office of the Bureau of Fire Protection.
The donation will boost the local government’s fire fighting capability as it only has one fire truck which Alangalang Mayor Loretto Yu described as “old".
Yu said the acquisition of new fire truck is part of the Sustainable Use and Protection of Philippine Peatlands Project which is being implemented in the country by the Department of Environment.
The National Action Plan on Peatlands was drafted within the framework of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Peatland Management Strategy. It spells out specific operational objectives and serves as a guide for the implementing agencies and collaborating partners on specific actions that must be undertaken to ensure protection and sustainable se of peatlands in the Philippines.
There are two areas in the Philippines where substantial areas of peat have been found: the Agusan Marsh and the Leyte Sab-a Basin.
The Sab-a Basin with in the areas of Alangalang and Santa Fe towns, is a west-east elongated basin close to the north coast of Leyte separated from it by a metamorphic ridge. The total area is c. 3,088 ha of which 44% has been reclaimed for agriculture. The remaining unutilized peat land (1,740 ha) in the eastern half of the basin consists of small remnant areas of swamp forest and sedge/grass peat swamp (ADB 2000). The two smaller peat basins in the area Daguitan (210 ha) and Kapiwaran (430 ha) have mostly been converted to agricultural land.
Occurrence of wildfires, often caused by agricultural activity by local people in protected peat swamp forests, both on and below the surface, is among the threats in the sustainability of peatlands. The fire truck donation from Korea will help the local government contain such occurrences.
The DENR project focuses on awareness raising on how valuable peatlands are. The peatland in the Leyte Sab-a Basin has the capacity to absorb and hold a lot of water during the rainy season, releasing it slowly to maintain base flows in the outflow rivers. It is also important in preventing penetration of saline water up rivers due to this contribution to minimum flows in the rivers during dry periods.
Although the Philippines has relatively little peatlands compared to other countries, the peatlands of the Philippines still have an important role to play in the storing and sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere.
The limited information available suggests that biodiversity values of Philippine peatlands are high.
High scenic values are found in identified Philippine peatlands, including the striking forests of Lanipao (Terminalia copelandii) in both the Agusan Marsh and the Leyte Sab-a Basin. Both peatlands are surrounded by uplands, from which impressive views of the peatlands can be gained.
Peatlands are also important to local communities as a source of wood like timber and firewood for domestic needs and nonwood products like the Frimbistylis globulosa, locally known as “tikog” for mat making and other livelihood purposes. (PIA 8)