PHOTOS AND TEXT BY
LAUREN ALIMONDO

 

 

A log ban and a number of laws have been in place for decades to restore the forests, but the absence of a coherent policy on forest management has resulted in various forms of land conversion that continue to drive deforestation at an alarming rate.

 

CAPTION CAPTION. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. 

 

Mindoro is the seventh largest island of the Philippines. It sits at the bottom of Luzon, where the country’s capital is located, and stretches toward the northern tip of Sulu Sea. Large ships pass through its unpredictable waters, and on its seabed lie the wreckage of vessels that didn’t survive it. 

On land, a spine of mountains runs across its center. Its forests are home to the tamaraw, dwarf buffalos whose images once graced once-peso coins. They used to be widespread, but are now critically endangered.  

Land conversion has wiped out most of the habitat of the tamaraws. The lush expanse of forests where they liked to wallow in mud pits undisturbed have been flattened to make way for human settlements.

The same fate has befallen a species of pigeons called Mindoro bleeding-heart, named so because their breasts resemble a puncture wound with a blotch of orange at the center that deepens to dark red.

The rate of deforestation, which in turn drives the endangerment of species on the island, has been alarming, said ecologist Neil Aldrin Mallari, who studies the Mindoro bleeding-heart as president of the Center for Conservation Innovations.

The birds are also found on the islands of Negros, Panay, and Mindanao but the lowland forests where they used to live — the temperature there is right and fruits are aplenty — have drastically thinned through the years.

Mallari said the few remaining pigeons try to adapt, retreating to high altitudes where there are still trees to offer refuge. Those trees are their last stand.

 

 

Mindoro lost more than 200,000 hectares of forest cover from 2003 to 2015. That's about the size of land that 3,000 SM Mall of Asia complexes would cover if they stood side by side. The neighboring tourist haven of Palawan also lost nearly 30,000 hectares of forest land during the same period, based on government data. 

The losses of Mindoro and Palawan in terms of forest cover make Mimaropa the most deforested region in the Philippines, even if other islands in it such as Marinduque and Romblon had recorded some gains.

Mimaropa is also a microcosm of the state of forests in the country. Some provinces have successfully expanded their forest cover, but the gains were erased by consistent losses in others. 

A log ban and a number of laws have been in place for decades to restore the forests, but the absence of a coherent policy on forest management has resulted in various forms of land conversion that continue to drive deforestation at an alarming rate. 

The country’s forest cover is only about seven million hectares or 23% of the country’s total land area, based on official numbers, although experts are afraid that this number is overestimated. 

That’s a lot of forest lost from the early years of the Spanish colonial period, when forest cover was over 90%. The first Christian missionaries saw trees extending from the shores to the mountaintops, and likened the country to a paradise.

 

 

 

CAPTION CAPTION. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. 

CAPTION CAPTION. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. 

 

CAPTION CAPTION. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. 

CAPTION CAPTION. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. 

CAPTION CAPTION. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. 

CAPTION CAPTION. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. 

CAPTION CAPTION. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. The quick brown fox jumps over the head of the lazy dog. 

 


 

 

FELLOWS

Larry Piojo – "Commuters"

Orange Omengan – "Mental"

Lauren Alimondo – "Killings"

Gerimara Manuel – "Urban Poor"

Paul Villanueva – "Aeta"

Bernice Beltran – "Women Labor"

Dada Grifon – "Killings"

Bernadette Uy – "Manila Bay"

Mark Saludes – "Red Tagging"

EC Toledo – "Fishing"

Ria Torrente – "Aids"

Sharlene Festin – "Flooding"

 

 


 

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