Subic, July 26, 2016 — During July 18-22, 2016, the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its partnership with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), trained 50 officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Bureau of Fire Protection in forest fire management.
The Basic Fire Training on forest fire prevention and management focused on wildland fire preparedness, including planning for forest fire management, responding to forest fires, and recovering of damaged areas. Training graduates will serve as lead focal persons in the event of forest fires and will help conduct future fire training around the Philippines.
The training was conducted in response to a series of forest fires that broke out in Mt. Apo Natural Park, Mt. Kanlaon, and Mt. Kitanglad in March and April 2016, and burned more than 114 hectares. All three locations are priority sites for improving natural resource management and reducing forest degradation under USAID’s Philippines Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) program, which works across seven sites in the Philippines. During the forest fire on Mt. Apo, USAID quickly provided equipment to community volunteers and later, also with USFS experts, supported an assessment of the fire-damaged areas.
DENR Assistant Secretary Marcial C. Amaro, Jr. welcomed the U.S. government’s assistance in strengthening the capacity of government officials and staff to prepare for and respond to wildland fires. During the training, Mt. Apo Park Operations Superintendent Eduard Ragaza stated, “With this training, we can share what we learned with communities around Mt. Apo and encourage them to be our active partners in combating and even preventing forest fires.” DENR Assistant Regional Director for Mt. Kitanglad Felix Mirasol remarked, “This training will enhance the capability of field implementers in fighting forest fires, and make them better prepared when the next El Niño comes.”
The Basic Fire Training is part of the U.S. government’s commitment to support the Philippines in protecting and conserving its natural forests. Together with DENR, USAID continues to conserve biodiversity in forests, reduce forest degradation, and build capacity for biodiversity conservation, forest management, and disaster risk reduction.