Subscribe Us

Ilonggo Network

Climate resilient land use planning Last of two parts

One month after super typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda) devastated the different islands in the Visayas region, efforts are now being concentrated in implementing rehabilitation measures.

The typhoon brought unprecedented devastation, leaving thousands of deaths and injuries, and enormous destruction to properties, infrastructure, agriculture and livelihood in Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Negros, Panay, Masbate and Palawan. The reconstruction will surely cost a huge amount of money and may take sometime, since there were areas that have been wiped out of almost everything.

The likely occurrence of calamities, and its associated destruction, is being viewed as the new normal of our times. Experts claim the magnitude and intensity of natural hazards and risks, such as typhoons, tsunamis, storm surges and volcanic eruptions, are getting stronger these days as consequences of the phenomenon known as climate change. It is therefore very necessary that preventive measures be carried out to avoid or even minimize the possible negative impacts of these disasters.

One important concern being espoused by both government and nongovernment institutions is the adaption of climate resilient land use planning.

As I mentioned in the first part of this column, the land use planning shall include vulnerability and risk assessment. Areas classified as hazard zones shall be devoid of permanent settlement, especially areas that are highly prone and susceptible to landslides, flooding, volcanic eruptions, storm surges and tsunamis.

However, this might be a very challenging task in that most of the occupants in hazard sites have no access to land ownership, particularly in coastal and upland areas, and they will be dislocated from their main sources of income.

For instance, fisherfolk would always prefer to stay in the coastline to have immediate access to their fishing grounds.

The land use planning should seriously take into account the possible resettlement of residents in hazard zones, including the total packages in terms of access to basic social services and livelihood. It is possible that people tend to face the risk of natural hazards than to be dislocated from their sources of income.

This is particularly true with small island communities whose main source of living is fishing. On the other hand, some marginal upland communities are also situated in landslide prone areas and even within the four-kilometer permanent danger zone of the active volcano. Supposedly, this volcanic danger zone should be free from settlement and other people’s activities.

Aside from resettlement issue, it is also necessary to carry out more long-term measures, particularly in the design and location of infrastructure, and the cleaning up and rehabilitation of our environment.

The way to go is to protect the different natural ecosystems, from terrestrial to coastal and marine ecosystems. The recent typhoon has demonstrated the ability of the natural environment in protecting communities from the impacts of disasters. Several island communities in northern Negros Occidental have been spared from the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda because of the presence of mangrove forests.

The remaining forest should be protected and deforested areas should immediately be rehabilitated. Natural forests are good barriers of strong winds and they mitigate the impacts of heavy flooding and landslides. Coastal areas where mangroves naturally occur also require rehabilitation. There is also a need to stabilize the different riverbanks through the planting of suitable species, while it is necessary to clear the waterways.

There are just too many things that need to be addressed and so everyone must exert efforts to minimize, if not to prevent, the likely impacts that the climate change may bring. (Author’s note: This article is also available online at*

Post a Comment