Farming Kills More Trees In The Cordilleras

Some people can’t be bothered long enough to think while they’re on their ride on the latest environmental conservation bandwagon on social media.

Given that most people on social media are in their late teens or early twenties, the demographic alone tells you that selling “critical thinking” to the YOLO crowd can have you face-desking while engaging them.

And it’s not good AT ALL that digital-gurus and social media elders are egging them on.

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It will be DENIED, but there’s BUSINESS to be made in proclaiming one’s self  as an opinion leader in the online realm.   But they are not leaders in any sense that can be made, because all they’re really doing is taking advantage of this YOLO demographic’s natural tendency to question everything — not so much to know the answers and be guided by accordingly, but just to annoy the hell out of those who actually know better.

In other words, members of the YOLO demographic ask because they are hell bent on proving they are asses.

Leadership, if you ask me, is figuring out what’s right and doing what is right — whether or not one’s rectitude is acknowledged, followed, or supported.  But that’s just what I think, how about you?

That why, after being asked to support a “save the trees” movement, I paused and asked: Is that really the problem?

Save The Trees… Really?!

In one particular “save the trees” social media movement, people should have expected the movement to have sprung from the larger and graver problem of deforestation in the Cordillera Administrative Region.  But, of course, it didn’t.

This did a great disservice to people, not only because it sent people off the charge at the wrong windmill but also because it allowed the real culprits to remain undiscovered.

Thank God that someone wrote an article on Environmental Science for Social Change which defines the problem for us.  In “Cordillera’s forests, green water, and watersheds” which was posted in February 2012 the status of deforestation in the Cordilleras is described and the causes pointed out.

In May last year, Antonio Manila, technical director for forestry of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-National Capital Region, reported that in the Cordillera region, the deforestation rate had risen to alarming levels, resulting in massive erosion and groundwater depletion.

He said that an estimated 300 hectares of the region’s forest reserves are disappearing each year, now largely due to conversion to commercial vegetable and other farms, timber poaching, and fires from slash-and-burn farming.Industrial blight and rural poverty are driving economically desperate households to carve vegetable farms into forested mountains. As natural forest vegetation is thinning, largely from illegal cutting, the ecosystems are less able to abundantly support green water.

In a succeeding paragraph, mention is made of a certain Pedro Walpole and his study entitled “Figuring the Forest Figures”, where he makes the following assessment of deforestation in Benguet:

As pointed out by Walpole, the province with the worst forest cover is Benguet, due to its history of clearing and mining. After the war, pine logging for timber and wood needs of mining companies became rampant. Forest clearing from open-pit mining, water pollution from mine tailings, and sinking of the land from mine blasting also took a heavy toll on the environment. On top of this, the expansion of vegetable farms is also leading to insufficient water supply, as well as degraded water quality from such farm inputs as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and chicken dung.

However, between mining and agriculture, we think that vegetable farming causes more forest loss than mining.  Mining covers a limited land area, while vegetable farming expands to use up more and more forest land.  Moreover, large scale legitimate mining operations have provisions to deal with soil erosion and ground water contamination.  Whereas vegetable farming

The impact of deforestation in CAR was described in various paragraphs and we’ve taken the liberty of posting some of them here:

The impact of deforestation reaches not just northern Luzon, but extends as far down south as Metro Manila. Soil erosion from the balding mountainsides along the entire length of the Agno River basin contributes to the severe siltation of the reservoirs of San Roque dam as well as Ambuklao and Binga dams, which had to be rehabilitated so that their floodgates do not have to be kept open during heavy, continuous rain.

And here’s an over-all picture of what may be the status of deforestation in the Cordilleras is:

In contrast to the previous 47% figure of the DENR, its new assessment of the Cordillera forest cover as 37% of the total land area more or less hews to the 35% figure that ESSC arrived at in its study. Moreover, the government’s estimation of forest cover annual loss of 300 to 500 hectares in the region also reflects ESSC’s reading of a continuing downward trend in forest cover regionwide as well as nationwide.

Thing is, the situation could actually be much worse.  Granting this, I think the proper and correct call to action would be to demand that the government investigate the current state of land use in the Cordilleras and if it finds that unregulated farming is to blame for massive forest loss, then it should implement a program to address this.

6 Replies to “Farming Kills More Trees In The Cordilleras”

  1. Increasing farming is also due to increasing number of consumers… which means population increasing… or overcrowding in those hungry areas. I’m not a fan of the RH law anymore, though something should be done to tell people to reduce their numbers, maybe. More development elsewhere too.

  2. I don’t know much about farming. But it seems filipinos are farming in the wrong place. Looking back about 3 decades ago, while traveling along the northern highways, lush farmlands abound on both sides, even on the southern highways. Today, they are either grasslands or subdivision or malls. I know highland vegetables cannot be grown on the plains but still, these plains are not as productive as what they used to. Something to think about if ever the country plans for the future.

  3. the country has no plans for the future and it is every man for himself. the smart will leave, the dumb will stay, what else can one say? the people who run the country on the inside are beholden to the people on the outside.

    a complete mess of a country with problems as far as the eye can see…and then some. reproducing, like alley-cats, children with NO FUTURE hopes for anything but squalor. political ‘dynasties’ in every sector of the country controlling everything within their greedy graps..YUCK! leave NOW! while you still have the chance. or stay and be condemnd to a life of poverty.

  4. subsistence farming is no longer viable in the country due to prohibitive costs. multi-nationals have taken over. the trees are being cut down on Mindanao at a rate that is so scary that the place will flood sooo badly that many will just be washed away…AGAIN!

    GOOD LUCK! saving the trees? try saving yourselves first!

  5. If you tinker with Mother Nature. She will surely fight back. Floods and drought are just waiting to happen in those areas. Landslides will also bury those houses. It’s like a ticking bomb waiting to explode.
    You cannot abuse Mother Nature, and get away with it.

  6. I think another problem with the YOLO generation is that they do not know how to question properly. They sometimes lack the common sense for it and are poorly informed. For example, some YOLOs will question why you should you appreciate corporate technology as a “slave,” but they but themselves use Iphones.

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