Monday, July 26, 2010

Part 1: Treaty of Man and Nature

Abe V Rotor

Frantic exploitation of natural resources through illegal logging operations, followed by slash-and-burn agriculture (kaingin), has brought havoc to the Philippines in the past century. The detrimental results are measured not only by the denudation of once productive forests and hillsides, but also destruction through erosion, flood, drought and even death.

An example of this kind of ruination brought about by abuse of nature is the tragedy in Ormoc City where floodwaters cascading down the denuded watershed, killed hundreds of residents and countless animals. It took ten years for the city to fully recover. Ironically, before the tragedy, Ormoc, from the air, looked like a little village similar to Shangrila, a perfect place for retirement. Similar tragedies occurred in Maasin, Southern Leyte, and in Real, Quezon, resulting in the death hundreds of people due to flood and landslide.

Decline in Carrying Capacity

A land area designed by nature to sustain millions of people and countless other organisms, was touched by man and we are now paying the price for it. Man removed the vegetation, cut down trees for his shelter and crafts, and planted cereals and short-growing crops to get immediate returns. He hunted for food and fun, and in many ways, changed the natural contour and topography of the land.

Following years of plenty, however, nature reasserted itself. Water would run unchecked, carrying plant nutrients downhill. On its path are formed rills and gullies that slice through slopes, peeling off the topsoil and making the land unprofitable for agriculture. Since the plants cannot grow, animals gradually perish. Finally, the kaingero abandons the area, leaving it to the mercy of natural elements. It is possible that nature may rebuild itself, but will take years for affected areas to regain their productivity, and for the resident organisms once again attain their self-sustaining population levels.

There are 13.5 million square miles of desert area on earth, representing a third of the total land surface. This large proportion of land may be man-made as history and archeological findings reveal.

Continued

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