Monday, April 28, 2014

The Landscape Ecology of Metro Manila

by Antonio C. Antonio
July 2, 2013

The most common definition: “Landscape Ecology is the science of studying and improving relationships between ecological processes in the environment and particular ecosystems.  This is done within a variety of landscape scales, development of spatial patterns and organizational levels of research and policy.”

I have chosen to write about Metro Manila as my landscape for the following reasons:  (a) It is where my family and I live; (b) It is the most modern metropolis in the country; and, (c) It is the most inhabited area in the Philippines.  It may not be the best cluster of cities in the world, in terms of urban planning, but this is my living environment and it would be best to focus on it… and, perhaps, understand and appreciate it better.

Metro Manila is composed of 16 cities and 1 municipality… namely; the cities of Manila, Caloocan, Las Pinas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, San Juan, Taguig and Valenzuela and the municipality of Pateros.

Composition, structure, function and change are just some of the more important principles in understanding Landscape Ecology.  In general:

·         COMPOSITION involves the genetic makeup of populations, identity and abundance of species in the ecosystem, and the different types of communities present.

·         STRUCTURE involves the variety of habitat patches or ecosystems and their patterns.

·         FUNCTION involves climactic, geological, hydrological, ecological and evolutionary processes such as seed dispersion or gene flow.

·         CHANGE involves the continual state of flux present in ecosystems.

It is also important for to learn and understand the three main components of a landscape… namely:

·         MATRIX which is the dominant component in the landscape, is the most extensive and connected landscape type, and it plays the dominant role in landscape functioning.

·         PATCHES are nonlinear surface areas that differ in vegetation and landscape from their surroundings. They are units of land or habitat that are heterogeneous when compared to the whole.

·         CORRIDORS are the strip of land that differs from the matrix on either side. Corridors are areas that link patches together, serving as highways or conduits for organisms to transfer or move from patch to patch.

Using these principles and main components of a landscape, and applying such to my chosen area the following were observed using Google Earth image of Metro Manila:

1.     Metro Manila is a thickly populated area with infrastructure (buildings, houses and pavement) dominating the landscape which could be considered as its matrix.

2.     Metro Manila is one big habitat patch or ecosystem.

3.     No distinct corridors could be identified for Metro Manila.

4.     The weather in Metro Manila is characterized to be generally hot and humid.

5.     The function and structure of Metro Manila is mainly residential and business.

6.     On the North-Northeastern part of Metro Manila is a strip of blue (indicating water) surrounded green patch (indicating a forest area) which is the La Mesa Dam and La Mesa Eco Park.  Further North is Angat Lake.

7.     The western boundary of Metro Manila is Manila Bay and on the Southeast is Laguna de Bay.  A difference in color --- blue for Manila Bay and light moss green for Laguna de Bay --- seems to indicate the deteriorated state of Laguna de Bay.

8.     Change in landscape in Metro Manila is characterized by fast expansion to the Southern part towards Laguna and Cavite and to the East towards Rizal.

With a pollution index that is slightly above normal levels, Metro Manila is really not a “healthy” place to live in.  However, people have a tendency to flock in it since it is the where the center of business and economic activities are… not to mention that Metro Manila is also the center for socio-political activities considering that our central government is located here and it is also where the better schools are located.  Better urban planning and strict adherence to zoning laws and regulations could still make Metro Manila a better place to live in.

Just my little thoughts…   

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