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Philippine floods: also a story of forest and wetland loss



22 December 2011. The recent flooding disaster in Mindanao, Philippines is undeniably a result of extreme rainfall brought on shore by the cyclone Washi. But this is not the entire story; the loss of forests, establishment of plantations with exotic tree species, widespread illegal mining operations and degradation of wetlands has decreased water retention and increased flash-floods and mudslides across the country. As a result, heavy rainfall may turn into disastrous flooding within hours.


Of the once dense primary forests, only a few percent remain; mostly on Palawan. Mindanao, the island that was hit hardest by the recent storm has lost most of its forest cover. Deforestation and mining has been increasingly blamed for soil erosion, river siltation, flooding, and drought.
Wetlands International works with partners (Red Cross Netherlands, CARE Netherlands, CORDAID and Red Cross Climate Centre) to increase the resilience of disaster-prone areas in Mindanao that suffer regularly from floods. In our approach, we help people to prepare for disasters, while also working to reduce the impacts of extreme weather, like this cyclone. Working closely with the government among others, we aim to ensure the conservation and restoration of forests and wetlands, so that water is retained in restored wetlands and floods caused by heavy rainfall are not as destructive.
See a blog story of Pieter van Eijk written just before the disaster.


Pieter van Eijk


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