Saturday, April 26, 2014

Intangible Causes of Deforestation

by Antonio C. Antonio
December 14, 2013

Deforestation is the over-exploitation, over-extraction and over-utilization of the forest and forest products beyond the natural capacity for the forest to regenerate.  As a consequence of this disturbance regime, the forest loses its capability to provide for the numerous life forms (flora and fauna)... and, therefore, causes their extinction and loss.

Here are some of the causes of deforestation: (1) high population growth level; (2) land use conversion; (3) over-harvesting and over-extraction of forest products; (4) upland migration; (5) wrong public policy direction of government; (6) widespread poverty;  (7)  imbalances in opportunities and resource distribution or social justice; (8) shifting cultivation; (9) slash and burn farming; and, (10) other forms of disturbances in the forest that accrues to deforestation.  All of these can be quantified in measures of figures (in numerical data and pesos and centavos).

There, however, are other causes of deforestation which cannot be measured and quantified.  They are intangible (meaning: incapable of being perceived by touch, not definite or clear to the mind) such as:
  1. Greed – Described as the inordinate desire to possess wealth and material possessions of abstract value with the intention to sustain oneself far beyond the dictates of basic survival and comfort.  There are also those who have a high degree of desire for status and power which leads them to be greedy.  The Philippine political system does a lot in contributing to and encouraging people to embrace greed as a way of life.
  2. Apathy – Defined as the lack or absence of feeling, emotion, interest or concern from people.  An apathetic person has an absence of interest in or concern about the emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical and physical life of the people around him... and also the physical elements (the world in general and the environment in particular).  Most people prefer not to get involved and stay away from contemptuous issues such as the environment simply because it is more convenient.
  3. Lack of Knowledge and Awareness – Ignorance and naiveté are two of the most destructive characters of man and, because of this, it becomes hard for him to understand negative environmental implications.  It is openly said that sometimes people don’t realize the wrongs they do and cause simply because they do not know or (at the very least) aware that they are doing wrong.
There are several stakeholders in the forest areas... the upland dwellers and indigenous peoples, government, private businesses, civil society, etc.  Any stakeholder who possesses any or all of these immeasurable intangibles would be a further cause of deforestation.  The worst case scenario is that all of the stakeholders collectively possess all three characters.

Just my little thoughts...

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