Deforestation in Cebu City ‘continues’

DWINDLING RESOURCE. The forest not only absorbs carbon emissions, but it is also an important source of water and food. In 2023, Cebu City lost an additional 74 hectares of green cover. 
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DWINDLING RESOURCE. The forest not only absorbs carbon emissions, but it is also an important source of water and food. In 2023, Cebu City lost an additional 74 hectares of green cover. / MCWD ENVIRONMENT DIVISION

CEBU lost 74 hectares of natural forest in 2023.

This was revealed by Cebu City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) assistant head Anne Marie Cuizon during an online program of the Cebu City Public Information Office on Saturday, May 4, 2024.

“This current update is very alarming,” she said, adding that the forested area could have absorbed 77.6 kilotons of carbon emissions.

She said climate change and some developments in urban areas are to blame for the reduction and degradation of the city’s forest cover.

According to globalforestwatch.org, from 2001 to 2023, Cebu City lost 609 hectares of tree cover, equivalent to a 4.4 percent decrease in tree cover and 353 kilotons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

CPDO head Joseph Michael Espina said natural forests, including the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL), are very important considering these provide both water and food security.

The 29,062-hectare CCPL is spread across the cities of Cebu, Toledo, Danao and Talisay, and the towns of Minglanilla, Balamban, Liloan and Compostela.

The current status of Cebu’s forest and the developments within the island’s protected areas have prompted Espina to push for the Cebu City Government to take a more active role in regulating structures being built in these areas.

Espina, in the same online program, said he discovered that the Protected Areas Management Board had allowed developers to put up structures at the CCPL without the City’s knowledge.

Water security

Espina said the CCPL is very important as it feeds the aquifer or underground water.

He said that its role is very crucial, especially with Cebu City experiencing a limited water supply due to the drought-like condition brought about by the El Niño phenomenon.

“This area was supposed to be our source of water because this is the one feeding our aquifer, our underground water,” said Espina.

In a separate interview on Messenger on Sunday, May 5, former Cebu City councilor Alvin Dizon, who authored several environment-related legislation, said one way to preserve the environment is to embrace a cashless payment scheme like Globe’s GCash platform.

He said digital transactions reduce the need for paper-based documentation, such as physical receipts and statements, thus saving trees and reducing carbon emissions associated with paper production and transportation.

Dizon, who is currently based in Sweden studying climate change leadership, said the Philippines could consider following the Scandinavian country’s initiatives on cashless payment and cash online transactions because of their environmental benefits.

“Digital transactions diminish the demand for paper currency and can result in lower carbon emissions related to cash transportation and processing,” he said.

The El Niño phenomenon has resulted in Cebu experiencing a drastic drop in rainfall and soaring temperatures these past few weeks.

Weather specialist Jhomer Eclarino had told SunStar Cebu that the weather would get worse before it could get better as May is expected to be warmer and hotter, based on historical records.

Last year, he said, the highest heat index recorded in Cebu was 43 degrees Celsius on May 17, 2023.

“We just recently experienced 40 degrees Celsius this April, and May is considered the hottest month; it is expected that the heat index is increasing,” he said.

Eclarino added that on May 31, 2010, also during an El Niño phenomenon, the province recorded its highest surface temperature at 37 degrees Celsius, with a heat index of 49 degrees Celsius. / JJL

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