DENR urged: Stop cutting trees in Davao City mountains

Published December 4, 2021, 1:39 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

Thousands of people are calling on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to stop cutting trees in the mountains of Davao City in a bid to secure the community’s lifeblood, save a Philippine eagle nesting territory and save water, air and biocultural sanctuary in the area.

In an online petition entitled “Stop the Cutting of Trees in Mts. Makabol-Alikoson Conservation Area (MMACA)” that has so far been signed by 2,089 individuals, the regional office of DENR in Region 11 is being urged to cancel the Private Land Timber Permit No. RXI-PLTP-001 2021, which was issued for the cutting of 121 old-growth trees within the MMACA.

The agency is also urged to affirm MMACA’s designation as an environmentally critical area in Davao City as well as improve its protection as a conservation area.


According to the petition initiated by Sustainable Davao Movement, MMACA is an 8,819-hectare conservation area, which supports the lives and livelihoods of over 6,000 residents of Barangay Salaysay in the uplands of Davao City.

“The natural resources of the MMACA have also sustained the Indigenous Obu Manuvu ways of life and culture since time immemorial,” it added.

That was the reason why the petition stated that stopping DENR’s cutting activities would secure the community’s lifeblood in the area.

On the other hand, the petitioners also said they want to save the Philippine eagles’ nesting territory in the conservation area, so they want to halt DENR’s operations.

“The MMACA is an ancient nesting site of a Philippine Eagle pair. The eagle couple’s first nest was recorded by the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) in 1986. The eagle pair hatched and raised at least twelve (12) young eagles in five (5) nesting trees within MMACA since then. However, based on Obu Manuvu oral history in Salaysay, the mighty Banog (or Philippine Eagle) has always existed in the area,” the petition said.

“Eagle nesting sites are crucial areas for reproduction and for the perpetuation of the species. Maintaining MMACA’s ecological integrity is therefore critical to the survival of our national symbol,” it added.

For the petitioners, the natural forests of MMACA also replenish the aquifers of Davao City’s Suawan-Kulafu-Sub-Watershed.

According to them, the sub-watershed is within the Davao City River Basin. while the area’s old-growth forest also feeds the Masawang River that runs for over 10 kilometers and joins the Davao River downstream.

“The same forest is also a carbon sink that mitigates global climate changes,” it said.

The petitioners further stressed that apart from the critically endangered Philippine eagle, the conservation area is also home to a few more threatened wildlife species.

“For instance, at least 40 species of birds were recorded there, and three are close to extinction, including the IUCN ‘vulnerable’ Southern Rufous Hornbill and ‘near-threatened’ Yellow-crowned flowerpecker. The Philippine Deer, and the Philippine Warty Pig, both IUCN ‘vulnerable” also inhabit MMACA.'”

As such, the petitioners are not only calling on the DENR but also on Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to take action on their demand.