With the onslaught of the El Niño Phenomenon, Malaybalay City has experienced the very dry and hot weather condition that triggered the incidence of forest fires. However, based on the investigation of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office, the forest fires are human-caused, i.e., mountain dwellers expand their farmlands by open burning that spread out to the nearby forests resulting to forest fires.

To date, a total of 400 hectares of forests and forestlands from February 2 to April 10, 2024 were burned.

Since 2022, the City Government of Malaybalay through the able leadership of Mayor Jay Warren Pabillaran has taken proactive measures for forest fire prevention and preparedness by hiring fifty (50) forest firefighters/forest patrollers as Job Orders in Malaybalay.

Our forest firefighters are volunteers before and the City Government equipped them with trainings on basic first aid technique, forest fires and safety, protocol on radio messaging, handling of hand tools for fire suppression, endurance tests, and provided them with protective personnel equipments, and other supplies for forest firefighting.

Last year, the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headed by Mayor Pabillaran allocated an amount of P1million for the provision of protective personal equipment of the forest firefighters in preparation for the El Niño phenomenon.

Because of the preparedness of the City Government of Malaybalay to combat the forest fires, we have protected approximately 12, 263.39 hectares of forests and forestlands in Barangay 1, Can-ayan, Casisang, Kalasungay, Patpat and Sumpong to date. Around 3.26% of our forests in these areas has been damaged by the recent forest fires.

Mayor Pabillaran hired additional 20 forest firefighters just this month to reinforce our manpower in forest firefighting and allocated an amount of P5million from the LDRRM Fund for the procurement of a stand-by vehicle of forest firefighters, field ration, trainings, personnel protective equipment, insurance and their other needs.

Let us continue to be vigilant and help the City Government in the reinforcement of campaigns against open burning and extensively disseminate the dangers of forest fires especially to our nearby communities.

In 2023 forest fires destroyed nearly 400 million hectares (988 million acres) of land around the world, killed more than 250 people and emitted 6.5 billion tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide1.

Reports: Jessie G. Suson, Supervising Environmental Management Specialist, City ENRO-NADA