Friday, February 4, 2011

Flooding karma: Philippines among world's biggest forest destroyers

The Philippines is one among the top ten "at risk" forest areas in the world according to a statement issued by Conservation International. Other "at risk" areas include Indo-Burma, New Zealand, Sundaland, Atlantic Forest, Mountains of Southwest China, Cape Floristic Province, Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa, Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands and Eastern Afromontane.
Forests, which now cover only 30 percent of the planet’s surface, are home to 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. About 1.6 billion people directly depend on healthy forests for livelihood.

In the article Tourist industry of last resort I cited studies that put the loss of forest cover from 1990 to 2005 alone at no less than 3.4 million hectares. "Primary forest cover now accounts for just 2.8% of total land area" in the Philippines.

All this information comes tragically relevant as flood waters now engulf most of the southern Caraga region of the Philippines, home to what were once among the most majestic topical hardwood forests of the country.

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III -- remaining true to our long tradition of excellent breakdown maintenance -- issued Executive Order (EO) No. 23 on the 1st of February 2011 declaring a "moratorium" on cutting and harvesting timber and mandating the creation of an "anti-illegal logging task force".

As local officials in southern Mindanao rightly pointed out an EO is just a piece of paper. Political will is what will get the rubber to hit the pavement.
Mati Mayor Michelle Rabat said issuing an executive order is however not enough. She said the President must also order a crackdown on the corrupt officials who are in cahoots with illegal loggers.

"After issuing the EO he should also crack down on the corrupt DENR officials, generals, governors, mayors and congressmen. Political will," Rabat said.

That, of course, depends on how many relatives of Noynoy's are among them.

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