It was the boomerang that human beings threw; the dreadful landslide that swallowed a whole farming community called Guinsaugon in St. Bernard town on Leyte island, about 670 km of southeast of the capital, Manila, killing up around 1,800 people on February 17, 2006.
At that time, 20 people already died due to the earlier landslide after 2 weeks of downpours of rain. On Leyte island, around 6,000 people were killed in November 1991 in floods of rain and drastic landslides triggered by a tropical storm, and also another 133 people died because of floods and mudslides in December 2003.
The Philippines is well-known for the dense subtropical forests; however, the continuous reckless logging is known to have activated to ruin the forests ever since A.D. 800.
The continued devastation caused by illegal logging directly contributes to the disaster. Even if some scientists blame heavy rains causing the land unstable and a small earthquake, the influence is limited, and so it is concluded that illegal logging played the critical role for the catastrophe.
Over half of forests among around 700,000 ha on Leyte island has disappeared since last 30 years by illegal logging. The forests vanished transform the ecosystems in the area.
As per National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in USA, there are 1,500 species of flowering plants at 1,000ha of tropical rain forests in the Philippines; and also live 750 species of trees, 125 species of mammals, 400 species of birds, 150 species of butterflies, 100 species of reptiles, 60 species of amphibians. Therefore, illegal logging not only cuts down 750 species of trees but also destroys the habitats of all lives in the ecosystems and eventually will lead to eradicate all species of lives there.
The common benefit value of national forests around 6,410,000 ha per year is \58,881,300,000,000 based on 2003 year as per the appraisal by Korea Forest Research Institute (KFRI). Even if it is not easy to estimate the economic value of forests, we are enforced to consider it as much precious as 8.2% of our national GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
Recently all over the world pay strong attention to forests as carbon absorber in compliance with Climatic Change Convention; say that international attention is going up for the management of forests and its necessity of operation. By considering resources of mountains and forests are directly related to a country’s competitiveness, the advanced countries concentrate upon cultivating forests for common benefits and for preventing disasters beforehand.
In view point of environment, the crucial resource ‘water’ is closely related with forests; the only water that forests contain in our country is as much as 18,800,000,000 ton.
The landslide occurred in the Philippines teaches us that it is our vital responsibility that we should cultivate trees and protect forests. We should keep in mind that nature would revenge us at the types of water deficiency and disasters like landslide etc, in case we neglect to do such things.
※위 글은 경희대학교 영자신문 4월호에도 실릴 예정입니다.