Saturday, December 20, 2014

Direct Causes of the Degradation of Upland Resources (Part 2)

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:

POOR FORESTRY ACTIVITIES – This is defined as the improper management of natural uplands and tree plantation/woodlots.  These include a variety of poor upland management practices such as the use of destructive timber harvesting technologies, badly constructed extraction roads, inappropriate planting establishment practices (therefore,  removal of groundcover by burning/ clean weeding, planting in lines up and down the slope).  This category would also include the replacement of a mixed natural upland with plantations of a very limited range of exotic species.  Degradation types commonly linked to this causative factor are soil erosion and downstream sedimentation, loss of soil nutrients, and loss of biodiversity/wildlife habitat.

OVERGRAZING – Besides actual overgrazing by livestock, trampling of surface soil and vegetation can be considered under this heading.  Soil compaction and/or a decrease of plant cover, may in turn give rise to soil erosion and reduced infiltration of rainwater.

INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITIES – This includes all human activities of a (bio)industrial nature: industries, factory farming (therefore, large scale commercial poultry and piggery units), power generation, mining, building of infrastructure, urbanization, waste handling, etc.  It is most often linked to pollution of different kinds (either point source or diffuse).  In addition to possible chemical and organic pollutants, uncontrolled rainwater runoff from mine spoil heaps, unconsolidated roadside cuttings and embankments, and the establishment of urban and industrial sites can be the source of significant quantities of downstream sediment.

UNREGULATED LAND CONVERSION – Legally designated upland lands are illegally developed for agriculture, residential, commercial and/or industrial purposes.  This will contribute to degradation if such land uses, or the management practices followed, are unsuitable.  Farm households affected by the conversion of agricultural lands to commercial, industrial, residential, and recreational (golf courses) uses may be forced to seek land elsewhere, which in the land scarcity situation prevailing in the Philippines usually means moving into marginal upland areas.  Hence, unregulated urban and industrial expansion within lowland agricultural areas may be a contributory factor to upland degradation elsewhere.

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…

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