Saturday, May 20, 2006

Ecology and the Environment

Before 1900 most of the land in the Philip­pin> was densely forested. A mere century later, half of this forest is gone. The battle to save what's left of the upland forests has begun, through indigenous land rights claims and new conservation policies, but there's stil1.enormous pressure on the gov­ernment from both domestic and foreign land interests.

The Department of Environment & Nat­ural Resources (DENR) is charged with wrenching the country's resources out of corporate hands and into community-based projects. Various attempts to rejuvenate de­graded forests have been plagued by unchecked introduced species and poor management, and in some cases degraded forests have simply been degraded further. New strategies for these areas include 10­calised sustainable management programs, natural resource mapping and taking the ad­vice of indigenous experts.

With a coastal ecosystem stretching al­most 20,000km, the Philippines is likely to become one of the earliest global victims of rising ocean temperatures. Centuries-old coral is dying almost overnight. This is fur­ther exacerbated by short-sighted activities, made all the more lethal by foreign funding, such as cyanide and dynamite fishing.

Another marine disaster is the uncon­trolled harvesting of seashells. Most of the tropical shells for sale around the world are harvested in the Visayas, and many species are rushing headlong towards extinction.

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