Amid unusually-bad flooding, a desperate plea to reforest the Philippines now

Mindanao is the second largest and southernmost major island in the Philippines. Davao City is the largest city in Mindanao. The island’s population is about 21,000,000 people. Davao City has about 1,700,000 inhabitants.

The past few weeks have seen disastrous monsoon flooding in parts of Mindanao that don’t normally flood. This is primarily due to newly-deforested hillsides.

People should know that reforestation does not only prevent floods but also has myriad benefits: It allows the regulated flow of groundwater to the lowlands; protects soil erosion and the concomitant siltation of rivers; prevents landslides and other forms of mass wasting; moderates the local climate; creates biodiversity that also stabilizes the oxygen and carbon dioxide cycle of the ecosystem; provides forest products that can be harvested; and, of course, prevents the loss of lives and property.

Thus, simultaneous with costly engineering interventions, the government should initiate posthaste a single-minded move to reforest the denuded mountains as an effective but cheap vegetative solution. And a good time to start reforesting is during the coming hot, dry season when the uplands are not as slippery as during the hot, wet season.

Meliton B. Juanico is a retired professor of geography at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is a licensed environmental planner and is active in consultancy work in urban and regional planning.

See full letter by Meliton Juanico in the Inquirer.

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