Save our Forest
Stop the destruction
Posted on 4 December, 2004 – 4:39pm.
Ban Commercial Logging and Mining in All Natural Forests
Quick tally: in the dozen or so years beginning from the Ormoc tragedy of 1991, how much damage has been caused by flooding and landslides triggered by typhoons? Some P1 billion worth. How many families have been left homeless or displaced? Close to one million. How many people have died? At least 10,000.
DO WE NEED TO ENDURE FURTHER SUFFERING BEFORE WE COME TO OUR SENSES?
To a large extent, the damage has been attributed to the degraded state of the country’s forests, due in part to rampant logging operations. Legal or illegal, logging bears a destructive effect on the environment. Trees do not distinguish between the heavy machinery of commercial loggers and the chain saw wielded by a subsistence farmer. They simply fall over and die.
Without forests that act like a sponge to hold the rainwater, the water rages unrestricted down the denuded mountains, bringing with it eroded soil and turning into murky floods as it hits the lowlands. The rising waters do not distinguish between government officials and NGO workers, indigenous peoples and city dwellers, rich and poor. They just wash away whatever is in the way.
Initially, government has ordered a crackdown on illegal loggers and their financiers, but beyond the small-scale operations, it must likewise deal with the mechanized giants that fell trees by the hundreds of hectares. The deforestation we now deplore did not happen overnight, we must realize. Over a period of 100 years, we lost some 20 million hectares of primary forest cover, from 21 million hectares (70%) in the 1900s to a little over a million hectares (6%) by 1998. We continue to lose our forests at the rate of more than 100,000 per year. To protect what remaining forests we have, government must actively promote tree plantations in marginal lands from which to source our domestic timber needs.
Ironically, however, government continues to push for programs and policies that exploit our natural resources and further the destruction of our forests in the pursuit of quick cash. The revitalization of the mining industry, for instance, trades off the long-term sustainability of the country for financial gain that is medium-term at best. This will only open up more of our remaining forests to foreign mining operations. Is it any wonder then, why we suffer through flashflood after flashflood, landslide after landslide every rainy season?
In the face of these calamities, government needs to provide much more than short-term relief and half-baked assurances. It is time to re-examine development priorities that favor commercial logging, mining, conversion of forest lands to palm plantations and other uses. It is time to recognize forest conservation and management as a strategy for the long-term survival of the nation and its people. Every Filipino should do his or her part to ensure that this happens. Only then can we consider these disasters as true wake-up calls.
STOP DESTROYING FORESTS!
* SUPPORT A NATIONWIDE TOTAL COMMERCIAL LOG BAN IN NATURAL FORESTS
* STOP MINING IN OUR REMAINING FOREST AREAS AND PLANT NATIVE TREES
* DEVELOP AND SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOOD OPTIONS FOR POOR UPLAND FOREST DWELLERS
* INCREASE BUDGET FOR COMMUNITY-BASED FOREST MANAGEMENT, WATERSHED PROTECTION, AND PROTECTED AREA MANAGEMENT
From the website of Haribon