DENR Region 13 and LGU San Agustin join hands to protect rare and threatened ironwood tree species

Photo caption: Libertad O. Alameda, mayor of San Agustin, Surigao del Sur, exhorts participants in the ceremony for the MOA Signing between DENR Region 13 and LGU San Agustin to protect natural forests within the jurisdiction of the LGU. OIC DENR Region 13 RD (third from left) signed the MOA for DENR, while other LGU officials served as witnesses. (Photo credit: USAID/B+WISER)

         DENR Region 13 OIC Regional Director (RD) Charle Fabre and San Agustin Mayor Libertad O. Alameda inked a partnership agreement to jointly implement the Lawin system in protecting the Municipality’s forest where the endangered endemic ‘mangkono’ (ironwood, Xanthostemon verdugonianus) can still be found.

         The mangkono is considered the hardest of the Philippine hardwood species. The species can be found only in few islands of the country. Its wood was once used in making bearings or stern bushings for propeller shafts of steamships. Its other uses include being made into rollers, shears, saw guide blocks, tool handles, novelties, poles and piles for wharves and bridges, and posts for houses. The municipality of San Agustin has more than 14,000 hectares of forest, the largest forest area among the municipalities that fall within the jurisdiction of CENRO Lianga, one of the nine CENROs in the region. The 27,000 people of San Agustin depend on a healthy forest for clean water and as protection against landslides and floods as the area also lies along the typhoon path. “DENR staff, barangay captains and officials should work together in protecting our forests and we seek the assistance of DENR in helping our people […] so that they don’t have to cut trees,” Mayor Alameda told those who participated in the event. OIC RD Fabre responded by saying that the DENR Regional Office is looking at ways on how forest dependent communities can be provided livelihood options that are not destructive to the forest. Municipal Councilor Sebastian Campos, reminded everyone that “We do not want our children to be washed out into the sea. Let us protect our forests and let us protect the next generation.” USAID/B+WISER is supporting DENR R13 in forging partnerships for collaborative implementation of the Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System among multiple stakeholders.