Cover Image
close this bookBasic Concepts in Environment, Agriculture and Natural Resources Management: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1993, 151 p.)
close this folderOthers
View the documentPhilippine commercial energy sources, 1990
View the documentCommon property resources in crisis
View the documentDegradation of the uplands
View the documentLowland degradation
View the documentEnvironmental issues in animal production
View the documentPlant genetic resources
View the documentNatural hazards

Philippine commercial energy sources, 1990

Nonrenewable sources

Renewable sources


Nonrenewable energy sources




- Oil-based power plants can be

- Air pollution.

built near end-user sites.

- Contributes significantly to the build

- Relatively shorter time to build compared to other conventional power plants.

up of greenhouse gases, especially CO2.

- Mainly imported and represents huge drain on foreign currency reserves.

Sourcing by Region (1990)

Local (Palawan) 2 %

Middle East 80 %

Asia 17 %

Other regions 1%

- Price and supply are affected by events in oil-producing countries.


- Commercially significant deposits exist in the country.

- Air pollution; contributor of CO2, one of the greenhouse gases and also of sulfur dioxide, SO2, which is a contributor to acid rain.

- Water pollution.

a. Potential for foreign currency savings.

- Coal mining, especially through the open-pit type, is environmentally destructive.

b. Reduced impact of adverse developments in the global energy market.

- Coal mining presents serious occupational health hazards.

- Low quality of most local deposits (subbituminous and lignite):

- Coal deposits in the country are dispersed leading to high transport costs.


- Requires relatively little land for the- amount of energy derived.

- Thermal pollution.

- Discounting leaks and accidents, does not contribute to air and water pollution.

- Disposal of radioactive wastes remains a big issue.

- Catastropic consequences in case of an accident.

- Requires huge capital investments.

- Dependence on foreign technologists.

- Dependence on imported enriched uranium.

Natural gas

- Cleaner burning, i.e., less- polluting, compared to the other fossil fuels.

- Although natural gas has been found in the country, this energy source has not been exploited. Doing so may require large initial investments.

Renewable energy sources


- Significant reserves available in the country.

- Destruction of forests; clearing of large tracts of land:

- Foreign currency savings.

a. Loss of wildlife habitat.

- Minimal pollution

b. Displacement of local populace.

- Lessens impact of adverse

- Huge capital investment.

Developments in the global energy market.


- Non-polluting.

- Huge capital investments.


- No fuel costs; foreign currency savings.

- Submersion of large tracts of land; alteration of hydrological features of vast areas:

- Lessens impact of adverse developments in the global

a. loss of wildlife habitat: end,

energy market.

b. displacement of local populace.

- Dams aid the spread of water-borne diseases, such as malaria and schistosomiasis.

Mini and micro

- Non-polluting.

- High initial costs in local or community level terms.


- No displacement of local populace.

- Technical skills required to build such plants are not available locally.

- Lesser impact on hydrology.

- Can be built on a scale more

appropriate to the requirements

of end users.

- Feasible alternative to areas

not served by regular power



- Utilizes wastes which would otherwise contribute to disposal and pollution problems.

- Supply and collection of materials limit the viability to local levels.

- Foreign currency savings (13 percent of Philippine energy consumption are now met by biomass.)

bagasse, rice, husks, straw, etc.

- Locally feasible in areas where materials are abundant.

- Competes with other uses such as fertilizer.

- Collection may be a problem.

- Burning contributes to the build-up of greenhouse gases.

- biogas

- Clean-burning; non-polluting.

- High initial cost in household-level

- Slurry may be used as organic



- Requires a not inconsiderable amount of maintenance.

- Requires a sufficient number of animals in one or several nearby sites or else collection of manure may be a problem.


- Still widely available in most rural areas although shortages are being felt in some.

- Contributes to de forestation especially mangroves and in areas with rapid population.

- Burning adds to the build-up of the greenhouse gases.

- Replanting required.

Note: Fuelwood is also a biomass energy resource although, because of its special importance, it is discussed separately. Some studies have estimated that as much as 70 percent of Philippine households use fuelwood to some extent.


- Minimal operating expense; no fuel cost

- High initial cost in local or community level terms.

- Non-polluting.

- Can be tapped practically in all rural areas (and unshaded urban areas), especially in isolated places which are not reached by regular power lines.


- Minimal operating expenses; no fuel cost.

- High initial cost in local or community Ievel terms.

- Non-polluting.

- Feasible only in areas where wind

- May be feasible in areas isolated from regular power lines.

factors are favorable.

Common property resources in crisis

Common property resources in crisis

Common property resources (CPRs)

Are those non-exclusive resources in which a group of people have co-equal use, rights and coownership. They are designated as such either on the nature of the resource or on the nature of their usage.

CPRs are divided into three broad categories:

· Land Resources like forests, grazing lands, public lands, wastelands.
· Water Resources like streams, ponds, lakes, groundwater, oceans, seas.
· Air, Sunlight and Space or indivisible natural resources.

CPRs have cultural, social, political and historical bases. Designating a resource as a CPR mainly depends on the existence of a group of people who are residents or indigenous to the area, bound by tradition, formal and informal structures and norms through which they control, own, manage, protect and preserve these resources.

To differentiate CPRs from public and private resources, public resources are those which are exclusively owned, controlled and managed by the government; while private resources are those which are exclusively owned, controlled and managed by an individual or group of individuals. Open access is the term used to describe unregulated use of communally, publicly or privately held property and resources.

CPRs: Roles, function and contribution

CPRs perform a major role as a life support system. In developing countries like the Philippines, CPRs are a significant component of the resource base of rural and urban communities. They contribute to the production and consumption needs of the people in these communities, as well as beyond.

Physical products are obtained directly and indirectly from CPRs: food, timber, fuel, water, manure, fiber, animal feed and clothing.

Income and employment are generated from and provided out of CPRs, particularly for rural communities around them. CPRs are used for activities such as handicrafts production as well as in growing crops and rearing livestock. CPRs are valuable as sources of food sustenance during the drought period.

Larger social and ecological benefits. When properly managed, CPRs ensure the sustainability of agro-ecological systems providing basic needs and sustenance for the poor. CPRs also provide an improved microclimate environment in surrounding communities.

CPRs in crisis

Degradation of CPRs as manifested by their fast pace of shrinkage in area and decline in productivity has resulted in making the poor people who depend on them even poorer. Although efforts by government, private groups and communities to restore, manage and protect CPRs have been started in some areas in the country, the crisis is still real. One factor that contributes to the degradation of CPRs is that the people who manage them are not clear about their roles and rights to the resources. Poor people continue to depend on these dwindling CPRs. And the cycle of poverty and common property resources degradation continues.

Degradation of the uplands

Degradation of the uplands



In the Philippines, the definition of upland areas varies across sectors depending on the government agency or the kind of project involved. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which has jurisdiction over most upland areas in the country uses the following definition:

"Uplands are hilly to mountainous landscape greater than 18 percent including the table land and plateaus lying at higher elevations which are not normally suited to wet rice unless some form of terracing and ground water exists. These are mainly classified as public land."

Ecological significance of upland areas

The upland areas play a significant role in the dynamic and highly interactive landscape components of a rural system. They serve as the life support system of the lowland and aquatic areas. Upland areas are of considerable importance because they contain the tropical forest ecosystems which are the oldest, the most productive and the most protective ecosystems on earth. An increasing population of the "poorest of the poor" lives in the upland areas. These upland areas are expected to absorb even more of the expanding population from the lowlands.

If environmental and socioeconomic conditions in the uplands are not improved, the peace and order situation could worsen. But, properly developed upland areas can be keys to a sustainable, socioeconomic progress for the country.

In the past, upland areas were covered with tropical rainforest vegetation and human population was sparsely distributed. Few problems existed in these upland areas. Upland areas yielded varied products which satisfied the basic needs of these human settlements. However, given an increasing human population, together with indiscriminate exploitation of the forest, the uplands have become marginal and less capable of sustaining productivity and supporting the basic needs of human society (Sajise, 1986).

As forest resources have been depleted and agricultural activities have been undertaken in upland areas, the fragile soil resources have been exploited and severe degradation of upland agricultural land has occurred.

Today, areas affected by agricultural degradation are characterized by barren denuded hills and mountains with very few remaining trees and mainly vegetated with cogon and brush. The soil is not fertile with outcropping of rocks and the presence of eroded gullies. Wild animals are losing their habitat; instead, ruminant animals graze these lands.

Factors affecting degradation of upland areas

· Uncontrolled exploitation of forest, e.g., overlogging, charcoal-making
· Shifting cultivation or "kaingin"
· Population pressure
· Overgrazing
· Improper agricultural practices, e.g., (plowing) down the slope, lack of crop rotations
· Construction of road networks
· Mining
· Land clearing for geothermal infrastructures
· Large forest/grass fires.

Effects of degradation of upland area

· Loss of forest cover
· Soil erosion
· Loss of nutrients (shortened fallow period of land resources)
· Decreased agricultural crop yields
· Flood intensification
· Drought intensification
· Decline in genetic diversity
· Shift in climatic patterns
· Lowered water table
· Increased sedimentation/siltation
· Degradation of coral reefs due to sedimentation originating from upland erosion
· Loss of wildlife habitat
· Increased carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere.

Upland population

Estimated to be 17.8 million Filipinos

- 8.5 million live in the forest
- 5.95 million tribal Filipinos
- 3.35 million lowland migrants

The marginal upland areas include the following classes of areas:

Cultivated/Open areas/Forest

- 0.3040 m. ha.


- 1.8129 m. ha.

Cultivated Mixed Grassland

- 10.1143 m. ha.

Eroded Areas

- 0.0007 m. ha.

Other Barren Areas

- 0.0103 m. ha.


12.2422 m. ha.

Lowland degradation

Lowland degradation


Lowland is any area of rainfed or irrigated farmland that is flat or gently undulating and usually at an altitude not far above sea level. (Resource Book on Sustainable Agriculture for the Lowlands, IIRR, 1990.)

In the Philippine context, most of the lowlands are planted to rice, the staple food of more than 80 percent of the Filipino people. Hence, the lowlands are invariably equated to rice production areas. Of the total rice area, 43 percent is irrigated, 43 percent is rainfed and 12 percent is upland.

Do you know that...

The widespread adoption of the world-renowned Green Revolution, from 1965 to 1988,changed rice farming in the Philippines. These changes were:

· Double rice cropping increased from 19 to 50 percent.
· Adoption of HYV's increased to 87 percent of the total rice-growing areas.
· Fertilizer application increased from 20 to 80 kg/ha.
· Use of insecticide increased from 31 to 94 percent.
· Use of herbicide increased from 12 to 74 percent.
· Use of power tiller increased from 0 to 46 percent.

(Resource Book on Sustainable Agriculture for the Lowlands, IIRR, 1990.)

Other changes which are less readily quantifiable, but equally important in the overall quality of life of the lowland farmers, include:

· Shift to intensive monocropping or the planting of one crop only - rice

· Loss of natural protein foods, e.g., fish, snails and frogs brought about by the heavy usage of pesticides in the farm

· Resistance of pests to chemical pesticides

· Environmental degradation, such as reduction in the natural fertility of the soil (low organic matter), pollution of water sources and effects of pesticides on human health

· Drought and floods

· Sedimentation in irrigation canals

· Some areas are utilized as improperly designed garbage disposal sites.

· Conversion of fertile agricultural land to nonagricultural purposes, such as housing projects and industrial sites.

· Conversion of wetlands to agriculture or other purposes.

Environmental issues in animal production

· There is a limit to the carrying capacity of land to sustain the food and habitat requirements of livestock and farm animals. It is easy to befoul the natural environment through intensive animal production straining already depleted resources.

· Ruminants, e.g., cattle, carabaos, goats, sheeps, etc., can make use of large quantities of low-grade forage and agricultural by-products and thus do not need to compete with humans for grain resources.

· There are four issues associated with intensive animal production:

Waste disposal can lead to pollution

Toxic residue

Genetic manipulation


The four environmental issues related to intensive animal production

1. Waste Disposal

Solid and liquid waste, if not handled expediently and properly, will create pollution and health problems. Nitrogen from animal wastes can seep into aquifers or natural ground water reservoirs and contaminate wells and community water supplies.

2. Toxic Residues

Substances like animal drugs (antibiotics - e.g., sulfadrugs and feed additives, pesticides, environmental contaminants and other carcinogenic substances) used in sustaining intensive animal production systems are known to cause or are suspected to cause hazards to human health (cancer, birth defects, reduced fertility, reproduction defects, neurotoxicity and other toxic effects).

3. Genetic Manipulation

Intensive animal methods have an adverse impact on the health and well-being of animals themselves. Through a combination of genetics and environmental manipulation, intensive production of animals has become possible. Unfortunately, selection of one set of traits is attained only at the expense, neglect and underdevelopment of other clusters of traits which may be equally important in the total performance of an animal breed.

Genetic uniformity makes entire animal farming systems vulnerable to unpredictable changes in the biophysical and social environments.

Reliance on row crops as major source of livestock feeds contributes to soil erosion and overuse of inputs for soil fertility and pest control.

Intensive animal systems neglect the potentials of native animals that can grow under harsh conditions and can survive on low quality and homegrown feeds.

4. Overgrazing

Insufficient fodder, especially during dry periods and droughts, forces animals to forage on available fodder growing in the distant grazing areas. Overgrazing on the earth's natural cover contributes to land degradation and soil erosion.

Massive herding of animals creates gullies that contribute to soil erosion, soil compaction, marching of wetlands and dust storms in dry, windy areas.

Free grazing of animals destroys both less-valued and high-valued grass, crops, plants and trees that can lead to loss of various plant resources.

Plant genetic resources

Plant genetic resources are traits or characteristics, passed from generation to generation through inheritance, that are actually or potentially useful. For each disappearing plant species, up to 30 animal or insect species directly or indirectly dependent upon it may also be lost. If plants do not exist, animals cannot survive.

Plant genetic resources

Uses of plant genetic resources

· Provide humanity with basic needs like food, medicine, shelter, clothing, fertilizer, religious articrafts, fiber, income, craft materials, energy, feed for animals, etc.

· Provide plant breeders materials needed to produce new plant strains/breeds to adapt to a changing environment.

Examples of plant diversity in the Philippines

· The Philippines, a country located in the humid tropics, is one of the richest sources of plant diversity.

· The Tagalog folk song Bahay Kubo mentions a total of 18 vegetables grown around a Filipino backyard.

· Mt. Makiling in Laguna contains more plant species, approximately 3,000, than the entire country of Canada.

· Before the advent of the Green Revolution, there were approximately 3,000 traditional rice varieties found in the Philippines. In 1987, there are only about 100 traditional rice varieties that remain in scattered areas in the Philippines.

· The Hanunoos, a small tribal group in Oriental Mindoro, cultivate at least 21 traditional rice varieties.

· There are at least 100 distinct accessions of cassava (introduced in the country several centuries ago so they have already been acclimatized) found at the Philippine Root Crops and Training Center in Baybay, Leyte.

Threats to plant genetic resources

· Habitat destruction -- the replacement of entire habitats by human settlements, grazing lands, commercial/agricultural lands and industrialization.


As of 1988, there were only 6.5 million hectares of forest area compared to 1969 wherein there were 10.5 million hectares of forest.

Habitat destruction

  • Overexploitation -- the intensive harvesting of plants and the extent to which these plants or plant products are traded.


The export of cycads, orchids, cacti, other succulents and ferns is a major threat to plant genetic resources.


· Agricultural development - the introduction of new breeds of plants (e.g., hybrids) and monoculture production systems.


In the Philippines, 4,000 varieties of rice were planted every cropping season in 1964. Today, only eight major varieties of rice are planted in 8, percent of irrigated rice lands.

Agricultural development

Effects and consequences of the loss of diversity of plant genetic resources

· Tungro virus destroyed JR-8 (a rice variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute) in 1971 and has become prevalent in many areas where IR seeds are planted in the Philippines. This is due to monocropping of IR seeds.

· The abundance of one type of crop (monocropping) results in the proliferation of pests, forcing farmers to use chemical pesticides. However, pests easily acquire resistance to chemical pesticides. In 1 93O, only 30 pests had resistance to chemical pesticides; by 1 980, over 430 pests had acquired resistance to chemical pesticides.

Natural hazards

Natural hazards

Natural hazards become disasters when the disruptions exceed the adjustment capacity of a community. This section describes three major natural disasters encountered in the Philippines: earthquakes, volcanoes and typhoons.


The earthquake that struck Luzon Island last July 16, 1990, at 4:16 p.m. was due to a break in the solid layer of the earth. The biggest shock was felt at Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pangasinan, Baguio, La Union and part of Nueva Viscaya. The Office of Civil Defense, Department of National Defense, estimated that about 1,666 people were killed and some 3,561 injured. Most injuries were sustained by people who were hit by falling objects. Many deaths occurred during escape.


Three things are emitted from volcanoes: projectiles, ashfall and lava or lahar. Projectiles can destroy infrastructure and harm people depending on the speed and size of the projectile. Ashfall has always been a source of anxiety among evacuees although the negative effects on health have generally been exaggerated. Residents nearer the eruption are actually more vulnerable to projectiles while those further away are more affected by finer ashfall materials which could enter the respiratory tract, potentially causing lung diseases. Injuries indirectly caused by ashfall occur when heavily-laden roof-tops collapse after a heavy rain. The effects of lava (molten rock) or lahar (volcanic mudflow) are almost similar. Both destroy communities by the property of mass impact or by blocking river channels, then causing flash floods. Lava has the property of intense heat and burns anything alone its path.

Tropical cyclones: depression, storms and typhoons

The impact of these calamities are due to their wind velocity or their potential to cause floods. For example, the destructive effect from wind was the main impact of Typhoon Ruping in 1990. On the other hand, the thousands of people killed in Ormoc City, Leyte, in 1991 was due to a flash flood brought about by a tropical storm. An average of 19 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine area of responsibility though only a small percentage of these are classified as destructive. The most common cause of injury during these calamities is drowning.

Frequency of tropical cyclone passage over each geographical zone in the Philippines.