Friday, December 19, 2014

Direct Causes of the Degradation of Upland Resources (Part 1)

by Antonio C. Antonio
December 19, 2014

Environmental disturbances are largely caused by human activities.  These activities are the direct causes of upland resource degradation. As reported by the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, these are:

DEFORESTATION AND REMOVAL OF NATURAL VEGETATION – This is defined as the near complete removal of natural vegetation (usually primary or secondary upland) from large stretches of land.  This can occur by converting upland into agricultural land, large scale commercial forestry, road construction, or urban development.  Deforestation not only leads to erosion and loss of nutrients, but also t loss of wildlife habitat, micro-climate changes, and loss of production potential from a range of wood and non-wood renewable resources.

OVER-EXPLOITATION OF VEGETATION FOR DOMESTIC USE AND COMMERCIAL SALE – This causative factor does not involve the (near) complete removal of the “natural” vegetation, but rather a degeneration of the remaining vegetation.  This results in insufficient protection against erosion, as well as loss of production potential and ecosystem degradation.  It includes activities such as uncontrolled logging and excessive gathering of fuelwood, poles, rattan, nuts, vines, fodder, etc.

POOR WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT – The over extraction of water (for irrigation, urban and industrial use) from rivers and other water sources leads to reduced downstream availability.  Where water is returned after use may have a higher salt content and/or be polluted from agro/industrial chemicals and human wastes.  Inefficient irrigation practices, wasteful urban/industrial water use and leakages from water delivery systems all contribute to water shortage problems.  In many lower upland areas, the technology of tubewells has led to abstraction of water in excess of natural recharge by rainfall, river seepage, and a progressive lowering of the water table.  In coastal areas, over extraction of groundwater has resulted in salt water intrusion into the freshwater aquifer (a growing problem in Cebu).

POOR AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES – This is defines as the improper management of cultivated arable land.  These include a wide variety of practices, such as absence or poor maintenance of erosion control measures, improper crop rotations, shortening of the fallow period in shifting cultivation, insufficient or excessive use of fertilizers, and use of poor quality irrigation water.  This category also includes the extension of cultivation onto lands of lower potential and/or high natural hazards (therefore, steep slopes).  Degradation types commonly linked to this causative factor are soil erosion, soil compaction, loss of soil nutrients, and water pollution (by sediment, particles and fertilizers).

Writing about these seemingly negative occurrences in the uplands is intended to increase the level of awareness on these dire environmental events so that we (individually or collectively) could do something about these direct causes of the degradation of upland resources. 

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at

No comments:

Post a Comment