ONE of the major problems in the Philippines is deforestation. This is the removal of forests and trees wherein the land is later on converted to other non-forest use. It can be used to build parks, malls, subdivisions, and other urban use.
According to Earth Snapshot, the forest cover of the Philippines dropped from 70 percent down to 20 percent during the 20th century. Only 3.2 percent of total rainforest is left.
Here in Davao City, where new establishments are arising, a concern about the environment is also becoming an issue.
This must have been realized by the City Council as it declared Matina Shrine Hills as a protected area on June 2013. This means it is illegal to transform it for further urbanization such as high-end housing and other commercial ventures.
Adding to that, the City Council declared that the area will be intended for massive greening program for ecological enhancement.
Residents of Ma-a have long been worried about converting Shrine Hills into subdivisions as they believe more landslides and floods will occur.Ma-a has been identified to be among the most vulnerable areas to natural disasters by the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council. And if indeed Shrine Hills will be converted, it will only add to the risks of calamities. Cracks and sinkholes are already visible, indicating that the ground may move with just a slight attempt.
With this, more constructions and deforestations can't be allowed anymore.
"Declaring the area as protected will result in more benefits than opening it to development," Romeo Cabarde Jr. of Ateneo de Davao University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council (UCEA) said.
True enough, since it will be for environmental development, it can enrich biodiversity and provide a healthy space for people.
This move can be considered as one of the ways to help solve what now Davao City is going through -- flooding. It occurs so often now that a lot of trees would be needed to help flood control. Trees are known to be good absorbers of water so the city would need as much trees as it can have.Aside from this, it will also be good to take care of the environment as it can be one of the ways to deal with climate change.
Apparently, climate change has been affecting not only our health but our lives as well. According to World Health Organization, many diseases like diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition, malaria and dengue are highly climate-sensitive and are expected to worsen as the climate changes.
Climate change can also be one of the factors why Davao is experiencing the heavy rains and flash floods that were never experienced before. Moreover, it can be the reason for the typhoons that are already frequently visiting not only Davao but the whole Mindanao as well.
This year, three storms were reported to enter the area during January and February, which was unusual since the place is outside the typhoon belt. Also, two very destructive storms, namely Typhoon Sendong and Typhoon Pablo, hit Mindanao in 2011 and 2012. These were the times when thousands of lives were lost and millions of properties were ruined.
With this, implementing laws on taking care of the environment is a good way to let the government and businessmen realize that it is not all about civilization and progress in the city. We also need to take care of the environment. We all know what nature can do once it is abused; it can take thousands of lives in just a snap.
Though we are grateful for the new establishments arising in the city, there needs to be balance between nature and industrialization.
There is a need to further take care of the environment. One of the easiest ways is to plant more trees to help lessen carbon dioxide in the air and absorb excess water during heavy rains.
But if the government would really want to participate in this then their power to prohibit illegal logging and mining would be very much needed. Since these two activities are considered the major reasons for denuded mountains and lack of trees, it would be wise to regulate them. In this way, both the environment and the people will benefit as the cutting of trees would be monitored while those depending on logging and mining for livelihood will still be able to survive.
Bottom line here is nature must not be taken for granted just to provide the city with new establishments. (Kathleen Rose T. Pate)
Sunday Essays are articles written by students of Ateneo de Davao University for their advanced journalism class.