ENVIRONMENT | Fire on the mountain, hope in the watershed

By Saberra Cruz

I could not help myself getting a bit emotional as I read the news on the massive forest fire in Victoria, Australia last week.

I lived there the past couple of years and explored the forests and joined a community project to help protect it. My forest buddy was a retired university professor and we trimmed the vines clinging on trees to control in case fire occurs.

It was a productive community volunteer work and camaraderie I had ever participated and it was an experience worth it in the famous “land down under,” which I learned to love.

Several times, I joined my Australian host and friends to explore more mountains, lakes and beaches and it seemed so endless. My visit there taught me to value more the environment because of the active community environment bond, something I didn’t do here in Butuan.

The village, where I lived there is small but I admired the citizenry for being environmentally proactive, having experienced deadly wildfires in the past years. They seemed to be prepared and ready for it anytime.

My first-hand experience of bush fire was when we were driving a car, it crept and  followed on us. Or so I thought, I was scared but glad we managed to escape. Somehow, I could never forget that experience in the Australian outback.

But also in the news last week, this time on the local front, I’ve read that the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and cause-oriented groups intensified drive to protect the Taguibo watershed, highlighting the importance of watershed conservation and the protection and care of the city’s natural resources.

This is encouraging and positive information and it is heartening that our people take action to defend and conserve the natural resources. Compared to other news bothering us in many ways—the destruction of the mountain forests through legal and illegal mining and logging and the big-time trafficking of exotic and endangered animals.

Someday, we hope these horrible practices against all living creatures and destruction and desecration of Mother Earth will stop and more and more people, if not all, become environmental defenders.

Artwork courtesy of PBS

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