Monday, December 22, 2014

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

by Antonio C. Antonio
December 20, 2014

Most problems in the uplands persist only because they are not addressed by identified solutions.  It would be ideal to revisit these problems with fresh perspectives in an effort to find new solutions to those that did not work in the past, such as:

INAPPROPRIATE CONSERVATION TECHNOLOGIES – While a range of soil and water conservation, agroforestry and forestry technologies have been developed for upland areas, the implementation of these typically requires substantial investments in labor, time, money and material resources --- items that many households do not have.  Hence, even when aware of the need to adopt specific sustainable land management practices, a household’s socio-economic constraints may prevent it from being in a position to do so.  Many current conservation recommendations (therefore, SALT, terracing, reforestation) have high initial investment costs when compared to current land uses and the incremental development costs are beyond what most rural households can absorb.

LACK OF ACCESS TO CREDIT – There is generally a lack of spare cash within the rural household economy and access to low cost credit is generally very limited.  Commercial banks, when present, are usually unwilling to lend money to those they perceive as having no collateral with which to secure a loan.

LIMITED INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES – The extension, research and conservation support services available to upland communities are very limited or non-existent.  The bulk of the available manpower and financial resources that Local Government Units (LGUs) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) devoted to agriculture has been concentrated on the development of paddy rice and commercial export crops within the lowlands.  This situation which has been reinforced by the provisions of the recently passed Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act.  For most hill farmers there is very little, if any, extension advice available on how to improve the productivity of traditional upland food crops.  Farmers in alienable and dispensable land lack extension advice on how to grow trees.

CONFLICTING INSTITUTIONAL MANDATES – Organizational problems related to the integrated management of uplands stem from the restricted, and often conflicting, mandates of the different development agencies operating in upland areas.  In particular, there are often conflicts of interest and legal responsibility over land use within upland areas between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), DA, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the LGUs.

UNDERPRICING OF UPLAND RESOURCES – The undervaluing of the natural resources in the upland, notably its water and upland products, has failed to promote the efficient use of water, nor has it encouraged improved natural upland management or large scale reforestation.  There is little incentive to pursue improved upland resources management practices if the end users of the resource do not pay a fair price to those who manage the resource.

INCONSISTENT STATUTORY AND POLICY FRAMEWORK – The legal and policy environment in which upland management takes place is characterized by overlapping, and often conflicting, policies with regards to the utilization and protection of upland areas.

These problems were already identified and reported by the Forest Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  Perhaps, you might have something better than the recommended solutions of the DENR-FMB to the underlying causes of the degradation of upland resources.

Just my little thoughts…

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