CEZA seeks probe of illegal logging in Palaui

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TUGUEGARAO CITY: The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has expressed disgust over the reported illegal logging activities inside the government-protected Palaui Island in the coastal town of Santa Ana.

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The island, a 7,415-hectare marine, mangrove and forest area, including 50 hectares of undisturbed coral reefs, lies along the South China Sea-Pacific Ocean coast.

CEZA officer-in-charge Julian Gonzales called on all concerned authorities to conduct an inquiry on the reported illegal logging activities in the island.

Last year, Palaui was adjudged by the US-based Cable News Network (CNN) as among the 100 most beautiful islands and beaches in the world and ranked 10th on the CNN list, and was cited for its glorious white sand meeting volcanic rocks and blue green water.
The 27th season of the popular US reality TV series “Survivor” was entirely filmed in Palaui last year.

Palaui is managed jointly by CEZA and the Department of Environment and Natural Re–sources (DENR) Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).

Gonzales said some 13,000 board feet of “cut and felled trees” of various hardwood species such as narra, kamagong and maho–gany were recently discovered by their group.
The island is part of the special economic zone, and is home to 105 species of rattan and valuable timber producing wood species and 25 imported shrubs.

“[CEZA] management is very much alarmed by this illegal activity inside Palaui Island which has been considered as one of the country’s pristine islands and considering that it is a national government-protected area,” Gonzales said.

Reports said the discovered illegally cut forest trees amounting to some P3.3 million, are now under the custody of the Aparri-based community environment and natural resources office (CENRO) of the DENR.

“We are afraid that such illegal activity has long been existing, that might endanger the rare flora and fauna inside the island,” Gonzales said.

In collaboration with the Department of Tourism (DOT), CEZA is developing Palaui to become one of the country’s major tourism destinations.

“We have already called on the attention of the [PAMB] for having a control over the protection of the island to conduct further investigations and identify the brains behind the cutting of trees in the area,” Gonzales said.

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