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The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
October, 1998 Vol. 1 No. 10

Coastal Alert





Probe on coral kills urged
Funding sought for fish farms
Investors eye Mindanao tree farms
"Be a hero for the planet," children urged
Regional treaties needed to protect environment - Greenpeace
Poachers, garbage threaten sea turtles in Antique

Probe on coral kills urged
Ayungon town in Negros Oriental urged the provincial government to verify reports of coral bleaching in Barangay Awa-an reportedly caused by wastes coming from foreign vessels. Ayungon mayor Edcel Enardecido said the municipal agriculturist confirmed that about one kilometer of coral reefs in his town has been affected. Residents suspect that the bleaching was caused by wastes discharged by foreign vessels delivering liquefied petroleum gas to a gas refilling station near the area.

Meanwhile, residents also protested the reopening of silica mining operations in Barangay Jandalamanon and Mabato, also in Ayungon. Mayor Enardecido said he has been informed by Good Yield Resources Development Inc. that they would resume operations this week after obtaining the necessary permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Bureau of Mines. DENR, according to the company, has conducted an ocular inspection of the area and declared that the mining operations didn’t require an environmental compliance certificate.

Local officials said the mining operations were damaging ricefields. Residents complained that mine tailings coming from the operations have caused heavy siltation in the river which supplies water to their ricefields. Jun Euraoba in The Freeman, 10.12.98

Funding sought for fish farms
Negros Oriental is seeking funding for developing freshwater fish farming in the rivers of Siaton, Bayawan, Sibulan and Tanjay, will high quality tilapia strains will be dispersed. Ruben Majam, Fisheries Division Chief of the Provincial Agriculture Office Administrative Division, said investors will be encouraged to operate their farms "within ecological limits."

"If you have a 100-hectare lake, only ten hectares of this should be used for fish cages, otherwise you could destroy the ecological balance," he said. He cited the case of Lake Buhi, where some 15,000 fish cages have been established, nearly half of them illegally. Fish cage operators have lost about P40 million from fish kills caused by overstocking.

A massive information drive is planned to encourage owners of farms along the rivers to institute measures to prevent chemical run-off into the rivers. Jun Eraoba in The Freeman. 10.12.98

Investors eye Mindanao’s tree farms
Barely noticed at home, Mindanao’s tree farms are fanning international interest by profitably funneling large volumes of industrial wood to modern mills while using neglected native technology.

"Recent successes in implementing large-scale, labor-intensive forest harvesting and transport of wood drew increased attention to Mindanao in the 1990s," the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a report.

Experimental tree farms were first set up on abandoned kaingins (areas cleared by slash-and-burn farming) along the Agusan River in the early 1960s. Today, more than 100,000 hectares of tree farms flourish in seven Mindanao provinces: the two Agusans and Surigaos, Davao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Cotabato. These farms generate an estimated $50 million a year, according to FAO.

"[Mindanao] is both the last bastion and the last frontier of forestry in the Philippines," noted Mike Jurvelius, who wrote the report.

But the tree farms are only green patches on an island reeling from massive forest denudation. Loggers creamed Mindanao’s rich forest cover, mostly valuable dipterocarps, stripping the land bare. In 1960, Mindanao’s forests covered 59% of total land area; today, they account for only 22% of the land area.

"The use of handtools and water buffaloes declined dramatically after 1945" in Mindanao forestry, said FAO. Using Western chain saws, yarding systems and winch lorries for suplus military trucks ("Bataan system"), loggers wrecked the region's timber stands and soil.

Experts now say the traditional manual and animal-based methods were more viable and practical under the socio-economic conditions of southern Philippines, and "mechanized harvesting was twice as expensive as bio-mechanical harvesting, known locally as 'minimal' methods."

The first large-scale attempt with "minimal" methods in Mindanao delivered 100,000 cubic meters of wood. Mills were swamped and excess wood decayed. Nevertheless, industry and farmers tapped into the potential of using low-cost and labor-intensive methods. By 1994, tree growing had spread 400 kilometers away from the original site, with farmers, using a variety of animals and locally manufactureed handtools, increasingly planting indigenous species such as apitong (Dipterocarpus grandiflorus).

Mindanao remains one of the most productive locations in the world for growing trees, according to FAO. Its potential for tree farming has attracted the attention of investors from China, India, Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan.

"Recent successes in southern Philippines will continue to provide valuable lessons for forestry development in this part of the world," said FAO. By J. Mercado, DEPTHNews in The Freeman, 10.02.98

"Be a hero for the planet," children urged
TIME magazine launched in its October 5 issue a multi-media environmental publishing program, "Heroes for the Planet," featuring profiles of outstanding individuals worldwide who are using fresh thinking and creativity to improve the environment. Ford Motor Company is the sole advertiser for the program.

"The coming of the new millennium will, I hope, cause us to think more about our planet and the duties we have as brief passengers on it," said TIME Managing Editor Walter Isaacson about the magazine's decision to publish the series."

William Clay Ford Jr. of Ford Motor Company agrees: "Henry Ford was... a passionate environmentalist. He developed ways to recycle lumber, use alcohol as fuel, slash manufacturing waste and conserve scarce resources with revolutionary research. He would be proud that his company is a leader in conservation, recycling and alternative fuels."

"Heroes for the Planet" will be featured three to four times a year in TIME's special reports and in TIME for Kids special issues. TIME has a circulation of 4 million US subscribers, while TIME for Kids reaches 2 million students in grades 2 through 6.

The first TIME "Heroes" report, published the week of September 28, focuses on six people who are working to preserve ocean life. It leads with a major profile of Sylvia Earle, a leading champion of marine conservation and considered by many as the one person who can fill the void left by legendary Jacques Cousteau's death.

TIME for Kids will publish a series of three special "Heroes for the Planet" issues and related materials (posters, teachers' guide) for fourth through sixth grade throughout the 1998-99 schoolyear. The first issue comprises profiles of high-achieving environmentalists in the areas of animal conservation, forest conservation, forest conservation, water quality and air and land pollution. It will announce a "Be a Hero for the Planet" competition, which encourages classes or groups of kids to set up and execute their own environmental projects. Ten projects will be featured in the TIME for Kids "Kid Heroes for the Planet" issue, to be published close to Earth Day in 1999. Ford Motor Company in The Freeman, 10.02.98

Regional treaties needed to protect environment - Greenpeace
The international environment organization Greenpeace stressed the need to develop regional treaties that would reinforce international treaties "to put in the processes for attaining environmental protection and social responsibility" in the advent of a globalized economy.

Ian Fry, Greenpeace regional policy adviser for Asia and the Pacific, said that trade is inevitable and can't be ignored. "An interlinked economy is creating strategic ghettos and environmental disaster zones. International economic forces will move industries to low-income areas and areas where environmental regulations are low." An interlinked economy must therefore be made "more accountable and socially and environmentally responsible."

Renee Paalan, project coordinator at the Center for Tropical Conservation Studies of Silliman University in Dumaguete City noted that the infusion of foreign technology into the country has changed sustainable traditional patterns. "Our forefathers had a culture based on sustainable economic and environmental activities. In the course of time [and with the introduction of foreign technology] which revolved around profit, this culture got lost and what is left is the culture of survival and poverty," Paalan said.

Fry encouraged non-governmental organizations to demand regional treaties that guarantee basic human rights and environmental measures. These include treaties for food security, rights to land and sea, freedom from discrimination, and the rights of indigenous peoples. He cited existing international treaties such as the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity as take-off points to a regional treaty.

An example of a regional treaty under the auspices of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum could be on the basic right to access fresh water. Such a treaty could facilitate cooperation among nations to ensure that shared water resources are fairly allocated and that upstream nations do not adversely affect the quality of the water available to downstream users. M. Auxilio, WFS in The Freeman, 10.02.98

Poachers, garbage threaten Antique's sea turtles
Loggerhead turtles have been nesting in a tiny coastal village in Laua-an, Antique, and residents are proud that the creatures have found a haven there -- until poachers and the town's garbage truck came.

Sitio Arong in Barangy Cadahoy 55 km south of the capital town of San Jose has been a refuge for loggerhead turtles for over a hundred years, said 97-year-old resident Jose Sunggayon, who was born and raised in the village. Sunggayon said his grandfather had told him that he too had seen the turtles nesting on the village's shore.

Today, the turtles' nesting place is under threat from the encroachment of poachers and the indifference of municipal officials who dump the town's garbage in the area. Rice millers also use the shore as dumpsite for rice husk.

Last June 9, villagers found one turtle nest with 130 eggs; not much later, they discovered that poachers had taken all the eggs. Two more nests were found in late June and early July, each containing 106 eggs. Wanting to protect the nests, villagers sought the help of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in San Jose. CENRO deputy chief Bonifacio Bayog prompty responded and transferred the eggs to a nest he built at the CENRO compound. The CENRO later identified the poachers, who said they did not know they had committed a crime. The poachers got off with a reprimand and a warning.

When fully mature, a loggerhead is about 110 cm long and 95 cm wide. Nesting takes place year-round, with peaks in July and August. Villagers said the turtles leave their nests at 7 in the morning and return at 4 in the afternoon.

Bayog said that once the eggs under his custody are hatched, they would move the hatchlings about three to five meters offshore so when they go back to the sea they will remember the scent and sound of Arong's shores. This way, when they are mature (usually after 25 years), the turtles will come back to the village to lay eggs.

Villagers fear that the turtles may decide not to return if they sense that Arong is no longer a safe place for them to lay eggs. Environmentalists call this behavior "stranding." Sea turtles study the beach area -- the temperature,amount of disturbance, pollutants, predators and other factors -- to determine if it is favorable for laying eggs. By T Portal in Philippine Daily Inquirer, 09.10.98



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